SEOUL, South Korea's new Army chief pledged Tuesday to ensure a firm readiness posture and support the government's military confidence building efforts with North Korea.

"(The Army) will buttress peace on the Korean Peninsula with strong military might," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Suh Wook said during his swearing-in ceremony, vowing to actively push for reform measures to create stronger and smarter forces.

Stressing the need to build trust in the military between the two Koreas, Suh said he will carry out related projects, such as demining operations, in a stable manner in accordance with Seoul's peace initiative.

His emphasis came as critics have expressed concern that ongoing rapprochement efforts with North Korea could lead to the weakening of troops' combat readiness and discipline.

"It is necessary to foster the manpower specialized in the ROK-US combined forces and develop the system for operational sustainability, so as to further strengthen joint capabilities and better prepare for the transfer of the wartime operational control," he said.

The allies have been working on the condition-based handover of the OPCON, under which Seoul will lead wartime operations with Washington playing a supporting role.

Earlier in the day, Air Force chief of staff Gen. Won In-choul also promised to maintain a strong combat readiness during his inauguration ceremony.

"We will spare no effort to build elite air power to counter omni-directional threats," he stressed.

Source: Yonhap news Agency