Black Beret chief leads reform of army intelligence command

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-08-03 16:30 Updated : 2018-08-03 16:30
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[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- The commander of special forces brigades was appointed Friday as head of a defense intelligence unit which faces sweeping changes in its structure for drawing up action plans for the implementation of martial law to safeguard the conservative regime of South Korea's e ousted ex-president Park Geun-hye.

President Moon Jae-in picked Lieutenant General Nam Young-sin, the commander of the Army's Special Warfare Command, as new head of the Defense Security Command (DSC), the president's office said. The appointment followed Moon's order to change the intelligence command through quick and sweeping reforms..

The Army Special Warfare Command, known as "Black Berets", includes six special forces brigades and one overseas deployment group. They receive special training for guerrilla warfare, reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, and other special missions such as assassination and the collection of information in enemy territory.

The powerful intelligence command absorbed security-related units in 1977 to become a powerful military body in charge of internal security, preservation of loyalty to the regime, and deterrence and investigation of subversion.

The DSC is now under fire for drawing up action plans for the mobilization of tanks, armored vehicles and armed troops to impose martial law if Park's impeachment was rejected in March last year. Such actions plans were an apparent copycat of a coup staged by former general-turned-president Chun Doo-hwan to seize power as DSC commander in 1979 after Park's father was assassinated.

Park's impeachment followed a wave of anti-government protests that saw millions of citizens taking to the streets for months. She received a 24-year jail sentence in April. Her crony, Choi Soon-sil, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for causing a state crisis by controlling government affairs arbitrarily for her personal interests.