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By Donald Hugh McMillen

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North Korea began a military build-up in the early 1960s, while the ROK followed suit in the mid-1970s. Until the US revealed its intention to withdraw American ground forces from South Korea in 197 6, Seoul had not felt an urgent need to build up its forces. But President Carter's blunt announcement of his troop withdrawal plan jolted South Korea and ended its belief in security under American protection. With a more prosperous economy, South Korea is now outpacing North Korea in military investmene 7 and is gradually narrowing the existing military gap.

South Korea has no sophisticated equipment for this purpose, as US Forces now provide such surveillance. A South Korean Perspective 23 The scenario that worries South Korea the most is that of fighting a war with a North Korea fully supported by the Soviet Union. lt thus strongly hopes that the US will keep sufficient military force in this part of the world to deter Soviet intervention in Korea. In the last three decades the Soviet Union has not threatened South Korea while the US has kept its armed forces on and around the Korean peninsula.

In conventional military forces, the US cannot match the Soviet Union. As of 1982, the US maintained nineteen division equivalent forces (DEF), composed of sixteen army and three marine divisions, and about ten independent brigades, including nine army and one marine, on active duty. These troops totalled 790 800 in the Army and 192 000 in the Marine Corps. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, operated 180 divisions and eight brigades totalling 1 825 000 men. The imbalance in naval forces, too, is obvious.

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