Seoul increase 2015 defense budget by 4.9 percent

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South Korea has finalized its 2015 defense budget that calls for a 4.9 percent increase from 2014. “The increase will improve the welfare of servicemen and enhance combat capabilities” The Korean defense ministry said. The defense spending in 2015  has been set at 37.4 trillion won (US$33.6 billion), accounting for some 9.9 percent of the nation’s total budget of 375.4 trillion won passed Tuesday by the National Assembly. The ministry had originally sought a 5.2 percent rise.

Two thirds of the budget (26.4 trillion won) has been set aside for personnel. The remaining third ( 11.1 trillion won) has been earmarked for efforts to boost defense capabilities, or a 4.8 percent increase from this year.  The focus of next year’s budget increase spending on personnel and service conditions is on improving barracks life, according to the ministry. Initiatives include  renovation of military barracks and Privatisation of maintenance and support functions, enabling combat units to focus on their primary military role .

The military also plans to spend 1.2 billion won to deploy cellphones at units to help soldiers communicate more easily with their family and friends, according to the ministry.

One of the main initiatives included in the 2015 budget is building an indigenous air defense system – the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD).   “Although the approved 2015 budget was 151.8 billion won short of what the defense ministry asked for, none of the projects planned for next year will be affected by the curtailed budget,” an official of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration told Seoul’s Yonhap news agency.