Via a reader tip comes news that the 23rd Chemical Battalion is heading back to Korea despite being pulled from the country a few years ago:
A chemical warfare battalion will soon move from the United States to South Korea, beefing up the U.S. military’s capabilities in a region menaced by the threat of North Korean nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, the Army announced this week.
The move of the 61st and 62nd chemical companies, as well as the headquarters and headquarters detachment of the 23rd Chemical Battalion — nearly 300 soldiers in total — is scheduled to be complete early next year.
The battalion will provide “nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance, equipment decontamination and consequence management assistance” to support U.S. and South Korean forces, according to an Army statement. [Stars & Stripes]
The rest of the Stars & Stripes article doesn’t mention this, but the 23rd Chemical Battalion was redeployed from South Korea in 2004 and restationed at Ft. Lewis, Washington. It was redeployed because its mission was handed over to the ROK Army. So is this deployment back to Korea because the ROK Army cannot handle the mission it was given in 2004? I doubt it, this sounds more like a way to save money as this passage later in the S&S article points out:
Hall said part of the analysis was based on a calculation that once the move is complete, the Army will recoup $1.8 million a year through lower base operational support costs in South Korea.
As much as people like Donald Trump want to claim that South Korea is freeloading under our defense umbrella, this is just another example that this is not true because the ROK does contribute to the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance. This is why it is cheaper for the Pentagon to keep troops in Korea instead of in the US where they would be completely footing the bill.