SEOUL, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- South Korea will toughen its rules of engagement so troops have more control on determining the intensity of a counterattack, the Defense Ministry said.
The revisions come amid mounting criticism the South Korean military responded too slowly to last week's North Korean air assault on Yeonpyeong Island, in which four people died, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Tuesday.
Among other things the changes would give South Korean troops greater leeway to determine the intensity of a counter attack by considering the level of damage and the threats received, the Defense Ministry said in a report.
"We plan to make supplements to guarantee conditions for punishing the enemy," the ministry report said.
The military also would grant more leeway to field commanders in counterattacks and invest more power to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to help the military respond to an enemy attack in a timely manner, the ministry said.
"We plan to differentiate the levels of responses to attacks on the military and attacks on civilians," the ministry said.
The U.S.-led United Nations Command and the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command would be consulted during the revisions, the ministry said.
Mindful of the outcry over North Korea's assault, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak chided his Cabinet Tuesday for not properly assessing the situation when South Korea's national security is at stake, Yonhap said.
"We should recognize that (South Korea) is confronting the world's most belligerent group," Lee was quoted as saying Tuesday during a weekly Cabinet meeting.