SEOUL South Korea's Army Chief of Staff-designate Gen. Suh Wook pledged Monday to ensure firm military readiness, saying it is a "bedrock" to buttress Seoul's diplomacy with North Korea for a lasting peace on the divided peninsula.

Suh, previously chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the remarks during a meeting with reporters one day before he officially takes office to lead the 464,000-strong armed service.

"Regardless of whatever diplomatic efforts the government makes, what serves as a bedrock is our military's robust readiness," Suh said.

One of the main tasks for the new Army chief is ensuring military preparedness amid concerns from critics that Seoul's push for inter-Korean rapprochement could loosen troops' discipline and their combat readiness.

Suh also pledged to carry out as much "footwork" as possible to strengthen communication with rank-and-file troops to enhance their welfare and strengthen cohesion among them.

Also at the meeting with reporters was Won In-choul, the Air Force chief of staff-designate who will also be inaugurated on Tuesday.

Won vowed to ensure that his armed service will carry out substantive military drills to help allay worries over the recent reorganization of major combined exercises between South Korea and the United States.

"I believe the reason for the existence of the military is to protect citizens," he said.

He added that he will step up efforts to proceed with South Korea's defense reform initiative aimed at creating a smaller yet smarter military, and prepare for Washington's envisioned handover of wartime operational control to Seoul.

Gen. Choi Byung-hyuk, the new deputy commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, underscored that he will play a role to help develop the bilateral alliance in a future-oriented manner.

Source: Yonhap news Agency