SEOUL, South Korea's defense ministry is considering curtailing the number of colonels in non-combat positions, as part of efforts to make its armed services leaner and nimbler, sources said Wednesday.

The ministry has been soliciting opinions on the reduction issue from the Army, Navy and Air Force, the sources said on condition of anonymity. The move followed its reported decision to gradually cut the number of general-grade officers by up to 80.

Defense Minister Song Young-moo, who served as the chief of naval operations from 2006-2008, has indicated his desire to streamline the bloated top military brass, with his slogan, the "military like a nimble leopard."

The ministry's consideration of the cut in senior non-battle positions has caused concerns among some service members that the removal of senior positions could undermine their job security and limit opportunities to climb up the military ladder.

Some military personnel have also voiced discontent over the talk of the reduction, noting that in modern-day warfare, logistical, administrative, maintenance and replenishment roles are increasingly important.

During a press meeting in February, the defense minister said that he considered relocating non-commissioned officers in logistics and other fields to combat positions, and filling their vacancies with civilian workers under a scheme that may cost up to 5 trillion won (U.S. $4.62 billion).

Source: Yonhap News Agency