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Military

With cargo missions, S. Korea joins U.S. war on terrorism
By Franklin Fisher, Taegu bureau chief
Pacific edition, Monday, February 4, 2002

TAEGU, South Korea — South Korea’s military has joined the war against global
terrorism.



The South Korea Air Force has begun cargo missions in support of Operation Enduring
Freedom, flying C-130 transports from Kimhae Air Base in the southeast.



The four planes and about 150 personnel are part of the 57th Tactical Airlift Wing. All
150 volunteered for the unit, according to the South Korean military.



South Korea stood up the new wing Dec. 21. As of Jan. 25, it had logged 350 flying
hours and 96,000 miles.



"Participation of ROK forces along with the forces of other nations enhances U.S.
efforts to combat terrorism around the globe," said U.S. Air Force Col. Ellsworth E.
Tulberg, commander of the 607th Combat Plans Squadron.



The U.S. military is supporting the new unit’s flights in various ways, including
communications, logistics and use of air terminals along the route.



"It’s not the first time they’ve done this," said Richard G. Davis,
senior historian for the U.S. military in Seoul. "They also formed a small airlift
unit for the Gulf War to do the same thing, airlift supplies for the U.N. So there’s
a precedent."



Col. Kim Deuk-hwan serves as the wing’s commander.



"I have emphasized that this is not a peacekeeping mission," said Kim.
"This is a peacemaking mission. We could be a target of terrorism. I’ve
emphasized force protection."



The unit was formed for Enduring Freedom’s anti-terror mission.



"The main purpose is to serve the anti-terror operation only," said a South
Korean military spokesman. "When its purpose is served, the ROK air force will decide
whether it will stay on or not."



Participating in Enduring Freedom may affect South Korea in several important ways,
according to Davis.



The unit benefits from real-world training.



"It familiarizes them with international operations," said Davis of the South
Korean personnel who’ll participate in the missions.



But as much or more than any military importance is the potential impact on
Korea’s evolving international status.



"It’s significant because it shows the Koreans are developing a modern world
view," said Davis. "This is a sign of growing international maturity on the part
of the ROK and its people."




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