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Korea seeks to extend troops in Somalia, UAE
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
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The Defense Ministry is seeking to extend by one year the stationing of its troops off the coast of Somalia and the United Arab Emirates, officials said Wednesday, citing persistent pirate threats and the need for constant security cooperation with Middle Eastern countries.
The agency is also pushing to put in place legislation to facilitate its future overseas dispatch of forces and participation in non-U.N. peacekeeping operations.
Currently, some 320 soldiers of the Cheonghae Unit have been taking part in an international antipiracy campaign in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast since March 2009, operating a 4,000-ton class destroyer.
In Abu Dhabi, the 150-strong Akh Unit -- meaning “brothers” in Arabic -- was dispatched in January 2011 following the UAE’s request to help train its special warfare troops.
The terms of both contingents were due to end at the end of this year.
“The role of the Cheonghae Unit is vital as the combined naval forces continue to face threats from pirates within their operational area, which calls for maintaining the current levels of antipiracy activities as a deterrent,” a ministry official said.
“As for the Akh Unit, it needs to remain there, given our own need to secure a solid footing in the growing arms markets in the UAE and the overall Middle East. It also makes it easier to protect the 25,000 plus people residing throughout the region should a contingency break out.”
The envisioned law on overseas military operations was proposed in June 2013 but has for almost a year been pending at a legislation and judiciary subcommittee of the National Assembly.
If enacted, it will help lay a legislative groundwork for the country’s future multinational peacekeeping activities and defense exchanges with other countries as the current law is only confined to U.N.-led operations.
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