Okay somebody give me a Hanchongnyun head band:
A proposed southward relocation of U.S. frontline troops in South Korea will be delayed for about one to two years, a government source said Sunday.
The envisioned relocation of the 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. forces in Korea (USFK) slated to be completed by 2013 will be put off because of financing problems, the government source said. [Yonhap]
Financing problems? The Korean government has enough money to build a canal across the country and ship over a billion dollars a year to North Korea, but they don’t have enough money to move soldiers from 2ID to Camp Humphreys until 2015? The prior agreed upon 2013 deadline was just a little over a year ago agreed upon to be pushed back fours years from the earlier agreed upon 2009 timeframe. Which by the way was a unilaterally decided on delay by the Korean government which quickly pounced on the opportunity to cut funding and renege on the deal when the prior US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned.
This delay is also being done in coordination with delay efforts to stop the hand over of war time operational control from the US military to the Korean military. Does anyone also think it is a coincidence that United States Forces Korea (USFK) commander General B.B. Bell was forced to retire because of his advocacy for maintaining the relocation plan along with the transfer of operation control? The Korean government has long been at odds with General Bell and now with him out of the way they are free to begin their delay games with the USFK relocation plan.
Even more suspicious is the timing of this announcement. This announcement was released by the Korean government’s official news agency Yonhap, late on a Sunday right before new Korean president Lee Myung-bak’s big inauguration ceremony on Monday so the local papers will hardly pick up on the 2ID delay story.
This is just more evidence that despite all the Yankee Go Home rhetoric in South Korea the truth of the matter is as the by line of this blog states, is to keep the USFK gravy train rolling along in Korea. The Korean government has never wanted to allow the USFK relocation to Camp Humphreys just like they have never really wanted to take operational control from USFK either. Both the Yongsan and the operational control issues have long served as great cannon fodder by South Korean politicians looking to demagogue the issue to their own political advantage. Plus the Koreans have never wanted to fund the move either. Most importantly to the South Korean government is that by keeping 2ID in their present locations along the DMZ that effectively prevents the United States from conducting any action against North Korea because the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division are virtual hostages to a North Korean counterattack.
It is also important for the South Korean government to maintain the current force footprint because consolidating the USFK bases on one camp would cut the number of Korean jobs that USFK provides which would create a gaping unemployment problem in northern Kyeongi province where USFK bases are located. Keeping the bases where they are at also is good for the side benefits which come with the black marketing and other scams that centered around US military installations in Korea that could be more effectively monitored with the majority of soldiers stationed on one camp.
The South Korean government is not the only ones happy about this news. The Fifth Column in South Korea, organized by North Korean agents have wanted to stop the move because North Korea wants to keep 2ID and USFK locked into their current locations that are well within artillery range of North Korea which would mean their easy destruction if any US action is taken against North Korea. The consolidation of US forces at Camp Humphreys would remove all US forces out of North Korean artillery range and additionally under the ballistic missile protection of US Army PATRIOT missile batteries. This would create better force protection for USFK forces along with giving USFK commanders more flexibility during war time. If the North Koreans cannot get the removal of US forces from the peninsula it is best to keep them right where they are at where they can serve as virtual hostages to the guns of North Korean artillery.
So effectively the South Korean government has greatly limited the American government’s ability to take any tough measures against North Korea will simultaneously ensuring that the USFK gravy train continues to roll on the peninsula. With the gravy train continuing the roll the money can keep flowing from South Korea to pay off Kim Jong-il while the North Korean military keeps their artillery guns pointed at the 2nd Infantry Division. Everyone wins except for the soldiers in the 2ID serving one year unaccompanied tours away from their families in substandard living conditions. The US taxpayers are losing as well as they continue to fund this gravy train all for the supposed defense of South Korea. Just think the Korean government built their new and massive Inchon International Airport in less time then it is supposedly going to take them to build a few barracks at Camp Humphreys to move the soldiers of 2ID into. This is utterly ridiculous and the only guy holding the Korean government’s feet to the fire was General Bell and now he is being forced to retire.
I think it may be getting close to ultimatum time. If the American government is truly committed to making this relocation happen, then considerations to remove 2ID from the peninsula should seriously be considered. Someone needs to call the Korean bluff. Is it too late to bring General Trexler out of retirement?
UPDATE: You can DIGG this story by clicking here.