CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Maj. Gen. Thomas Vandal’s last job would seem to be perfect training for his new role as head of the 2nd Infantry Division on the volatile Korean Peninsula.
Vandal most recently served as director of operations, readiness and mobilization for the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff in Washington. In South Korea, he has to ensure his 10,000 troops are ready to mobilize for any threat from North Korea while preparing for the consolidation of U.S. forces to regional hubs south of Seoul.
“Together with our [South Korean] partners, we will continue to be a lethal deterrent to aggression and vanguards for security on the Korean Peninsula,” Vandal, who succeeds Maj. Gen. Edward Cardon, told a change-of-command ceremony Monday. “We will continue to ensure that our readiness and ability to ‘fight tonight’ is never compromised.”
Vandal will seek to continue to improve coordination between his charges and the South Korean military and is tasked with minimizing misbehavior by 2ID soldiers, which – as is the case with all U.S. servicemembers serving in South Korea – routinely makes national headlines here.
Most of 2ID’s 10,000 are stationed between Seoul and the Demilitarized Zone. But the effort to move U.S. forces south of Seoul has already begun and is scheduled to be completed by 2016.
Vandal also served as commandant of the U.S. Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Okla., in December 2010-October 2011; deputy commander (support) for the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)/Multi-National Division-North in Iraq from October 2009 to November 2010, and commander of the U.S. Army Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany from July 2005 to June 2008.
Cardon, who has led 2ID since September 2011, has been nominated for promotion to lieutenant general and to head the U.S. Army Cyber Command at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Looking back at his time in Korea, he said, “There has been a period of heightened tensions here [with North Korea] and I think the partnership, combined training [and] interoperability between the U.S. forces and [South Korean] Army and the [South Korean] Armed Forces is better than ever. That’s certainly something I’m really, really proud of.”