ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on May 11th, 2011 at 10:47 pm

US Congress Looks To Stop USFK Move From Yongsan

It is because of news like this that I continue to maintain that I will have to see USFK actually move out of Yongsan and close that post with my own two eyes before I will ever believe it will happen:

Influential senators called Wednesday on the United States to freeze plans to relocate military bases in Japan and South Korea, describing the moves as politically unfeasible and too costly.

The three senators — John McCain, Carl Levin and Jim Webb — also suggested that Japan needed to focus on rebuilding from its massive earthquake and tsunami disaster rather than wade into a political quagmire.

The base realignment plans “are unrealistic, unworkable and unaffordable,” the senators said in a joint statement.  (………………..)

The US military is also looking to consolidate dozens of bases around South Korea into two hubs — Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Seoul, and Daegu, 300 kilometers (180 miles) southeast of the capital.

The move would allow US forces to leave their huge Yongsan base in Seoul, which was set up for the 1950-53 Korean War but now lies in the heart of the developed and densely populated city, leading to frictions with residents.

But the senators called for a halt, saying there was not enough clarity on who would pick up rising costs at Pyeongtaek where the US military wants to start shifting troops next year.

The senators also questioned the Pentagon’s plan to allow more of the 28,500 US troops based in South Korea to bring families.

“There is an inherent contradiction in planning to increase the number of US military family members in South Korea when there is the real potential that a destabilizing security situation in North Korea could unfold rapidly and unpredictably,” Webb said.  [Associated Press via reader tip]

Were these same people worried about a destabilizing security situation during the Cold War in West Germany when the US brought many more families there than what are in currently in Korea? I am a big supporter of bringing families to Camp Humphreys which lots of planning and work has already been done to accommodate the influx of these families.  With many military families experiencing long separations from deployments there is no reason why an assignment to Korea should be yet another family separation.

Anyway for those unfamiliar with the USFK relocation plan I recommend reading a “Historical Overview of the Camp Humphreys Expansion“.  Some other recommended reading on this subject is this posting, “Debating the Future of the US Military Presence In South Korea“.

The first negotiations to move Yongsan Garrison occurred in the early 1990′s and was scuttled due to the 1994 nuclear crisis.  Since then back in 2004 decisions were made to execute the latest USFK plan to move Yongsan Garrison and 2ID to Camp Humphreys and a variety of Korean governmental delay games have pushed this date out to 2017.  Now due US governmental delay games I can only imagine how much further out this date will now move to?  The nonsense going on Okinawa is equally frustrating to see play out.

I already know the answer to this question but it still is worth repeating.  How is it that the Korean government can get an entire city built on what was once ocean faster than the US can expand a military base for a few thousand soldiers?  I also wonder if the Korean government will use any possible Camp Humphreys delays as further justification for further delaying the hand over of operational control as well?

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  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    11:21 pm on May 11th, 2011 1

    We can’t even get the US Embassy moved….That’s just one building and has been slated since the late 1980s to early 90s…

  • kushibo
    11:24 pm on May 11th, 2011 2

    OP:

    I also wonder if the Korean government will use any possible Camp Humphreys delays as further justification for further delaying the hand over of operational control as well?

    Maybe, but it seems to me that this is being engineered from the US Senate, not the administration in Seoul (or Washington).

  • kushibo
    11:25 pm on May 11th, 2011 3

    Frankly, I think the various US senators involved are being a bit clueless. They’re trying to look tough on the budget but they’re being penny-wise (and maybe not even that) and pound foolish.

  • Chris in South Korea
    11:26 pm on May 11th, 2011 4

    “How is it that the Korean government can get an entire city built on what was once ocean?”

    Are these the same engineers that made the KTX Sancheon that just got recalled?

    Somehow I think I’ll have gray hair and they’ll STILL be debating moving the base.

  • Steve Austin
    11:37 pm on May 11th, 2011 5

    It’s all about money.

  • Leon LaPorte
    12:07 am on May 12th, 2011 6

    I am shocked! SHOCKED! I thought for sure we would stick to the timeline, this time, and all be living high off the hog in the promised land of Pyongtaek… and handing Honest Julies Realty our maxed out LQA checks. Yes siree bob. You betcha! You mean to tell me it was never true? It was all a hoax?

    I fondly remember way back the summer of 1990 at Camp Red Cloud. As I was watering the horses, Sarge said, “look around ya laddie. If evers ye come back there’ll be no more CRC. We’ll all be in Seoul. Yes sirre bob. You betcha!” *spit* *splat*

    :lol:

    /Seriously though. I hope all those honest folks, like Julie, weren’t speculating and end up losing any money. That would be a crying shame.

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Well so much for that prediction.

  • someotherguy
    12:30 am on May 12th, 2011 7

    As I’ve maintained this entire time, Yongsan is NOT closing, hasn’t been the plan since 2005. EUSA is supposed to move to CP Humphreys along with its supporting units. Yongsan is staying there but converting into a collation base under the command of KORCOM which will replace USFK. Most of the J-staff elements would remaining located there. People keep screwing this up and rewording it into “Yongsan closing” and “USFK going away” when neither is necessarily true. Yes it generates more hits / controversy when its said like that, but its dishonest and leads to wrong assumptions.

    The US won’t be moving out of Yongsan for a few decades if ever. What they want to do is move the majority of the junior soldiers and EUSA staff elements to another “Army” base and turn Yongsan into a NATO style base run by the Korean military.

    Which brings me to another point that is often forgotten. Currently the combatant commander is the USFK commander with the deputy commander being the Korean military head commander (he’s usually Army). They want to switch these two positions with the Korean Military being the new KORCOM commander and the USFK commander being the deputy KORCOM commander. This switch will happen when wartime operational control is handed over to the Korean Military, armistice operational control is already in the hands of the Korean Military. This coincides with USFK “going away” and being renamed to KORCOM, otherwise everything else remains the same.

  • Jimmie
    1:17 am on May 12th, 2011 8

    Someotherguy is pretty much on the money. Most of what is now on Yongsan, including 8A HQ, will move on or ahead of schedule. Both sides have decided that the Casey/Stanley move to Humphreys is both a bad idea and unworkable both financially and tactically. Note these are not typical shopping trip senators and that they spent considerable time on this over the past two years. Nor are the anti-military budget cutters, but some of the best at defense. Finally, the potential for NEO during the radiation threat scared the pants off a lot of people.

  • Leon LaPorte
    3:56 am on May 12th, 2011 9

    The Casey/Stanley move to Humphreys IS both a bad idea and unworkable both financially and tactically for a multitude of reasons but just last week, during some townhall or meeting, someone mouthed “2016″. Along with that, an almost religious dogma of the “great move” has been created. To doubt is to be outcast.

  • Bones
    5:36 am on May 12th, 2011 10

    Hell the way this $#%& going, I would not be surprised if they reopened some of those close camps.

  • someotherguy
    6:33 pm on May 12th, 2011 11

    Ehh there is a lot of arguing and heel digging going on between 2ID and EUSA about this. CRC is supposed to ~eventually~ close with 2ID HQ moving to Humphreys with the EUSA HQ. 2ID staff elements do not want this as they would lose significant control over their environment. Currently 2ID is its own little world up in Area 1, they have their own two star general and G staff elements and no one to tell them what not to do. This has lead to creating their own standards and making up their own rules “warriors standards and all that BS” often with their own policy’s that contradict the USFK policy’s. Its a lord of the fly’s situation. If 2ID moves to Hump they would have to share it with EUSA, the 2ID general wouldn’t be top brass in the area and wouldn’t be able to enforce their own rules. They could try but enforcement off-duty would be a b1tch as those rules wouldn’t apply non-2ID EUSA soldiers. At the same time the USAG would be the Garrison command and they report to EUSA not 2ID, it would be impossible for 2ID to enforce their own local policy’s and generally make the place suck. So yeah expect all of 2ID to kick and scream in their attempts to stay up in Area I.

  • MrChips
    3:37 am on May 13th, 2011 12

    “How is it that the Korean government can get an entire city built on what was once ocean faster than the US can expand a military base for a few thousand soldiers?”

    For real?? This whole idea (Yongsan relocation, not LPP or 2ID relocation) orginated with the ROKs when they approached Defense Secretary Cohen in 1998 about restarting talks to move out of Yongsan. Ever since then it has been a matter of “show me the money.” The US has only gone along with it so for as the ROKs showed themselves to be serious about the move, due not surprisingly to past failures to live up to the financial obligations of previous agreements. Progress in expanding the base has nothing to do with how fast the US moves and is totally dependent on how willing the ROKs are to spend the money to do it. From the very beginning, money was the reason why the timeline kept getting amended. After all, why should the Americans pay to move when things are fine for them, operationally, right where they are, right across the street from the Ministry of Defense. Is it any surprise that Eighth Army, once slated to move back to Hawai in 2008, remains and is moving into the HQ building originally (ostensibly) designed for KORCOM (USFK’s replacement after OPCON transfer)?? This could have been over and done with on schedule if the ROKs thought moving the US out of Yongsan was really worth the money its costing.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    5:49 am on May 13th, 2011 13

    MrChips, I recommend you read some of the links I provided because I have long chronicled the Korean governmental postion and delay games on this issue. However if the US government also shares some blame for the delays.

    If the US government really wanted to make this move happen they could do it. Rumsfeld’s removal of 2BCT from 2ID showed how serious he was about the transformation plan and that is when major decisions were made on how the transformation would happen. As soon as Rumsfeld was gone all the delay games began and it seems no one in the US government since has been as serious about the transformation plan as he was.

  • MrChips
    6:04 pm on May 13th, 2011 14

    I’ve followed your coverage over the years and it’s been good; I’m just still surprised to see people who I think should be in the know paint the Yongsan move as something the US was really pushing. I do recall getting a lot of grief from a few folks in the blog world early on when I said I thought the move would probably never happen and that money would be the key to seeing if the ROKs were serious about the plan they’ve trumpted over and over before. Rumsfeld absolutely was serious about moving 2ID but never about moving out of Yongsan.

    The US has never been opposed to moving out of Yongsan either, nor do I think was Rumsfeld against it, but they weren’t the instigators. They only want to move if the ROKs pay for it, hence the delay. The have always been more than happy to remain right where they are. Any PAO or S&S tidbits indicating otherwise have really just been pandering to their Korean counterparts. If there are delays in moving 2ID I’d say that puts the US in a much worse light since that was their baby and most of what has been built so far down in Pyongtaek has been for them. But, the 2ID/LPP issue needs to be kept separate from the Yongsan move issue. The US needs to accept responsibility for any delays/problems with 2ID moving but the Yongsan move is all on the ROKs.

  • MrChips
    6:06 pm on May 13th, 2011 15

    I should caveate that by saying while Rumsfeld never said it I think he would have been serious about moving out of Yongsan, but his move would have been much different than the one proposed, i.e. substitute Pyongtaek with Hawaii.

  • someotherguy
    9:02 pm on May 16th, 2011 16

    The US wasn’t “pushing” it so to speak, but its been in the US’s best interests to reduce their foot print over here. Namely getting the majority of EUSA and the junior soldiers out of the Yongsan area. Its prohibitively expensive to maintain such a large base in the middle of Korean’s biggest and most expensive city. Move as many people as possible out to a cheaper location and you can save lots of money while at the same time staging a further draw-down of forces on pen.

  • Jeff
    11:48 am on May 27th, 2011 17

    Here’s more on the issue of the move. I still think that adding more accompanied tours (at least to the level indicated) is a mistake. There are quite a few junior soldiers that get their spouses and infants to Korea and they just can’t cope; it causes alot more hassle and often times they eventually curtail their assignments and waste $$ in relocation costs.

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2011/05/military-can-us-afford-construction-costs-052711w/

  • setnaffa
    12:26 pm on May 27th, 2011 18

    I wouldn’t trust McAmnesty, to flush the toilet without a kickback… Lein and Webb are honest enough to actually run as Democrats… :roll:

  • setnaffa
    12:29 pm on May 27th, 2011 19

    BTW, the shops outside Osan AFB are much more friendly to us roundeyes than the current crop in Itaewon…

 

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