Thursday, September 4, 2014

S. Korea, U.S. to create combined unit next year

Back to the future.  I wonder how many remember the ROK/US I Corps and then the Combined Field Army in Uijongbu?  But this is good news for combined operations.   Kudos to GEN Thurman and LTG Cardon who worked hard to initiate this on the US side when they were in command.  This is a good sign for the strength of the ROK/US Alliance.

S. Korea, U.S. to create combined unit next year

By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have agreed to establish a combined division of their troops next year that will be tasked with carrying out wartime operations, Seoul's defense ministry said Thursday.

The unit, slated to be set up in the first half of next year, will be comprised of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division located in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, and a South Korean brigade-level unit, the ministry said.

In peacetime, the envisioned unit will have a joint staff, which will be headed by a major general-level U.S. officer, a ministry official said.

Details on the newly-created unit's missions are not available, though officials say it will be assigned to carry out special operations such as eliminating weapons of mass destruction as well as civil missions against North Korea.

"The new joint division is expected to improve the Seoul-Washington joint deterrence posture and boost our military's capabilities to carry out joint operations," the ministry said in a statement.

The agreement, however, does not mean any revision to their ongoing plan of relocating the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) bases south of Seoul, according to officials.

"The 2nd Division and the headquarters of the envisioned joint unit will be based in Uijeongbu. After the relocation project is completed, they will then be moved to Pyeongtaek," the ministry said.

In accordance with the 2004 agreement, Seoul and Washington have been working to relocate the Yongsan Garrison, the sprawling U.S. military headquarters in central Seoul, and the 2nd Division north of Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of the capital, by the end of 2016.

There has long been speculation that the reorganization of the 2nd Division aims to allow some American soldiers to remain north of the capital.

Last year, USFK commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said, "In terms of the residual in what we call Area One, there may be a need operationally to leave some residual in those areas just for proper defense and response." Area One includes the northern towns of Uijeongbu and Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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