US Ambassador to South Korea, Sung Kim says that no troop cuts are coming to USFK:
The new U.S. ambassador to South Korea said this week that the only impending change to the U.S. military presence on the peninsula will be the relocation of servicemembers to a smaller number of bases — not a decrease in troop levels.
During a forum Tuesday, Ambassador Sung Kim addressed longstanding concerns that the U.S. might station fewer troops in South Korea as part of the military’s overall cost-cutting efforts. Many South Koreans believe such a move would make their country more vulnerable to a North Korean attack, particularly following the death of dictator Kim Jong Il in December and uncertainty about his enigmatic son and successor, Kim Jong Un.
If you read the rest of the article Ambassador Kim says the USFK relocation will be complete around 2016. Take notice of the “around 2016″ remark because this is a hedge against whether or not the move will actually happen then. Just think 2009 was supposed to be the year the expansion project was originally going to be completed. For those that have not been following this issue, the reasons for the delays of the relocation are various, but it first started with the political fight within Korea to make the Camp Humphreys relocation project even possible. The Korean government has never wanted the USFK relocation to happen for a variety of reasons and the only reason it has gotten as far as it has was because of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s threat to withdraw USFK which was made quite clear with the redeployment of 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division from the Korean peninsula along with a host of other troop cuts. A few days after Rumsfeld resigned from office the Korean government immediately reneged on the transformation deal and announced the first delay of the Camp Humphreys relocation to 2012.
Following that drama then the next major fight happened when the anti-US groups began their siege of the land outside of Camp Humphreys slated to be annexed for the expansion. The stand off went on for months until finally one last epic Braveheart style battle took place where after many injuries the Korean police were able to expel the anti-US groups. Since then the delays have only increased, corruption has been rampant, and the Korean government launched a protracted fight over the funding of the US-ROK alliance and the move.
After it is all said and done, the completion of the expansion will happen somewhere between 2016 – 2019. It is incredible to think that the US government can decide to invade Iraq, occupy it, and then set up a security agreement with the new government to complete US withdrawal from the country in less time then it takes to withdraw troops from Yongsan Garrison.