I was going through some of the press releases on the Army.mil website and I found some words from Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno from his recent visit to Korea:
The U.S. Army’s top uniformed leader visited American Soldiers who serve close to the world’s most heavily armed border, Jan. 10 – 11.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno made his second visit to Korean Peninsula since taking office in September 2011.
Odierno, the 38th U.S. Army chief of staff, met with troops from the 2nd Infantry Division and 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
The 2nd Infantry Division serves with first-echelon Republic of Korea Army units just south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The 35th ADA Brigade employs the Patriot and Avenger air and missile defense systems.
Odierno’s wife Linda also met with military families during the visit.
Odierno said the U.S. Army will continue to play an important role on the Korean Peninsula as the U.S. military shifts its focus to the Asia Pacific region.
“The Army mission here in Korea has always been very important,” said Odierno. “As we shift our strategy to the Pacific, Korea clearly is an important part of that shift and we will continue to sustain a strong partnership and sustain a strong readiness level here in Korea.”
The chief of staff said that the 70,000 U.S. Soldiers stationed in the Asia Pacific region enhance regional security through their efforts to build stronger military-to-military relations.
According to Odierno, the U.S. Army also provides crucial logistical, signal and support capabilities to the entire joint force in the region.
Odierno added that serving in South Korea is an incredible opportunity for U.S. Soldiers. [Army.mil]
Here are the remarks I found to be the most interesting:
“The [Republic of Korea-U.S.] Alliance has been going on now for over 60 years and the strong relationship with Republic of Korea continues to be and will always be a very important relationship for us,” said Odierno at a press conference. “As we shift our strategy in the Pacific, Korea clearly is an important part of that shift.”
Odierno said requests for expanding U.S. military presence on the peninsula with additional Apache and infantry battalions is still being discussed in Washington, D.C.
“We discussed the requirement, potentially, for additional support here in Korea,” Odierno said at a briefing at Camp Casey in South Korea. “We expect a decision on whether we will provide additional capabilities here very shortly.” [Army.mil]
I can understand the need for more attack helicopters though I don’t agree with it, but I would really like to hear what the rationale is for additional infantry? The ROK Army has more than enough infantry, what difference would adding a few additional US infantry battalions make during a full scale war on the peninsula? Plus where are they going to go? This sounds like an attempt to keep the bases that are supposed to close in the 2nd Infantry Division open which is something that has long been speculated on here at the ROK Drop. Like I have always said I will not believe a timeline to close either Yongsan Garrison or Camp Casey until I see the places emptied out myself. There is decades of inertia and politics that would need to be overcome to close those bases.