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SEOUL — South Korea’s Minister of National Defense announced Thursday that the plan for South Korea to take wartime control of its troops must proceed with the planned 2012 deadline.

Kim Jang-soo’s statement followed calls from some of the country’s lawmakers to extend the deadline for the transfer of operational wartime command beyond April 17, 2012.

According to Yonhap News, an adviser to South Korean president-elect Lee Myung-bak hinted at a possible delay based on security conditions on the peninsula.

Lee’s office declined to comment to Stars and Stripes on Thursday.

U.S. soldier convicted on assault chargesSEOUL — A U.S. soldier was given a bad-conduct discharge last month after being convicted of assault and indecent assault, according to U.S. Forces Korea officials.

Pvt. Joseph C. Gattman also was sentenced to five months of confinement at the Dec. 15 general court-martial, according to information posted on www.usfk. mil — the command’s Web site.

Gattman was stationed with E Company, 4th Battalion, 2nd Attack Battalion.

USFK and 8th Army officials did not inform Stars and Stripes of the trial, despite repeated queries for a full December court-martial schedule.

Eighth Army spokesman Lt. Col. Brodrick Bailey, queried since Dec. 17, refused Thursday to provide any additional details on the case, including a full list of the charges, how the soldier pleaded, victim information, and who prosecuted and defended the soldier.

Military officials warn of computer hackersSEOUL — The South Korean military is warning its personnel to be alert for computer hackers, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman confirmed Thursday.

The spokesman said the cyberattacks are coming from unknown sources and are targeting South Korean military members’ personal computers, not official military computers.

He said some of the attacks were successful, but there have been no reports of compromised military data.

Military members have been reminded not to keep any official information on their computers, have been told to delete any e-mails from suspicious or unreliable sources, and have been directed to change their passwords.

According to news reports in the Chosun Ilbo, hackers sent virus-laden e-mails titled “Current state of the North Korean army’s capabilities.”

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