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Defense chief stresses new year poses new challenges, calls for preparedness

South Korea's defense chief stressed Sunday that the new year will pose a new set of challenges and that the country's armed forces must be prepared for all developments.

In a New Year's message sent out to the country and more than 600,000 troops, Han Min-koo made clear that the primary role of the armed forces is to fight the enemy and win.

"The armed forces will fulfill its role in the face of the grave situation the country faces as long at it stays true to this goal," the defense minister said.

He pointed out that many changes are expected in the security environment this year. The policymaker said North Korean provocations and changes in the international arena will fuel uncertainties, but the military must remain focused and not waver in the slightest.

"The people trust a military that sticks to its duties, so every effort must be made to maintain a strong defense posture," Han said.

Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Lee Sun-jin also said in a statement to mark the start of 2017 that the country's armed forces will make every effort to deal with both present and future dangers facing the country to ensure airtight readiness. He added that Seoul will further strengthen its alliance with the United States and build up its capability to take full charge of theater-wide military operations.

“Only by espousing a willingness to fight with the enemy and deal a decisive blow can we deter aggression and protect the lives of the people," the four-star general emphasized. (Yonhap)