U.S. Troops Slated to Move South From Korean DMZ
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 6, 2003 U.S. and Republic of Korea officials have agreed to a plan to realign American forces stationed in "The Land of the Morning Calm."
In June 4-5 meetings held in the South Korean capital city of Seoul, according to a joint U.S.-South Korean statement, it was decided the operation would consist of two phases:
- Phase 1 U.S. forces at installations north of the Han River would consolidate in the Camp Casey (Tongduchon) and Camp Red Cloud (Uijongbu) areas. Both bases are north of Seoul and the Han, but well south of the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea. The 14,000-strong U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division, which provides troops to bases near the DMZ, is headquartered at Camp Red Cloud.
- Phase 2 U.S. forces north of the Han River would move to key hubs south of the Han River.
U.S. and Korean officials agreed to continue rotational U.S. military training north of the Han even after Phase 2 is completed, according to the statement.
The realignment operation would take several years to complete, according to the joint statement.
Realignment of American troops in South Korea is part of an ongoing U.S. force assessment involving overseas and stateside troops. About 37,000 U.S. troops are currently serving in South Korea.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz noted at a June 2 press conference in Seoul that "a substantial amount of money" would be invested - about $11 billion, according to U.S. defense officials -- over the next four years "in some 150 programs to enhance U.S. capabilities here on the (Korean) Peninsula."
The U.S.-ROK statement noted that the realignment would also involve moving U.S. forces out of Yongsan garrison in Seoul.
Wolfowitz returned June 3 from a trip to Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo to discuss mutual security matters with East Asian leaders.
The deputy defense secretary observed in Seoul "that any basic changes we make to our ground forces here will affect the 2nd Infantry Division." However, U.S. "commitment to the defense of (South) Korea remains firm," the deputy defense secretary asserted at the Seoul press conference.
The purpose of realigning U.S. forces in South Korea, Wolfowitz pointed out, "is to enhance deterrence, not to weaken it."
More U.S.-ROK meetings on the subject of U.S. forces' realignment in South Korea are slated in the future, according to the statement.