Air Force chief to be replaced by deputy head of JCS

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(ATTN: RECASTS headline; UPDATES with nomination of new air force chief, more details)
SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Kim Eun-ki will likely be replaced next month, becoming the last four-star general in all the armed forces
to be replaced since the Lee Myung-bak government took office in February,
officials said Thursday.
The 55-year-old will be replaced by Maj. Gen. Lee Kye-hoon, who is currently
serving as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), according to
officials at the Defense Ministry.
"The nominee will be appointed by the commander in chief, the president, if his
nomination is approved at the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday," the
ministry said in a statement.
Ministry officials said the replacement was part of a regular reshuffle, but
Kim's dismissal was expected to stir up criticism as he still has more than seven
months left in his two-year tenure.
All eight other four-star generals in the military were replaced in April.
"Though the tenure for military commanders is set at two years, many have stepped
down after only 18 months, partly to make room for their juniors," said Won
Tae-jae, spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
The air force chief was earlier expected to be replaced next week, but ministry
officials said the change of command will not take place until early next month
as the incumbent chief of staff is tasked with organizing events for the Oct. 1
Armed Forces Day.
The successor nominee is a native of South Jeolla Province, and has served at
various posts of the armed service, such as the commander of the 8th Strategic
Fighter Wing and the deputy commander of the Air Force Operations Command.
Lee was commissioned in 1975, and has a master's degree in government
administration from Seoul's Dongguk University.