The South Korean armed forces have been equipped with outmoded or expired equipment for biological and chemical defense drills, likely undermining the effectiveness of the exercises and potentially exposing troops to sickness, the Korea Herald reported on Wednesday.
South Korean legislators revealed the Defense Ministry was having military personnel practice with protective equipment including gas masks that are 29 years old and decontamination gear manufactured 13 years ago.
Parliament's national defense panel rebuked ministry officials for mediocre oversight of the effort to assess the quality of WMD response equipment.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army is sending its 23rd Chemical Battalion to the Korean Peninsula in order to enhance deployed armed forces' ability to handle the North Korean WMD danger, Stars and Stripes reported last week.
The transfer encompasses the battalion's two chemical companies as well as other personnel and involves almost 300 troops.
The specialized WMD response battalion will supply allied U.S. and South Korean forces with "nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance, equipment decontamination and consequence management assistance," the Army said in a release.
The move "is strictly defensive and designed to increase readiness to defend (South Korea), protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula," according to a 2nd Infantry Division release.
"In Korea, like no other place on the globe, the potential for large-scale, full-spectrum conflict against the U.S. and its allies exists on a daily basis," the release continues.