Army aims to bolster ties to South Korean clergy
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The U.S. Army in the Daegu region will move to forge more frequent contacts with South Korean clergy, whom the Army sees as especially influential on South Korean opinion, officials said Friday.
While contact between the Army and local clergy is not new, officials at the Area IV Support Activity said they want to begin scheduling programs and other events on a more regular, systematic basis. The support activity, headquartered at Camp Henry, covers Army installations in Daegu, Waegwan and Busan.
The move comes after the Army’s Camp Carroll in Waegwan hosted a Jan. 26 “staff ride” tour of the installation for 44 South Korean Christian ministers, said Camp Carroll installation manager Wilfred Plumley.
“This was a new idea,” Plumley said of the clergy tour, “an area we’ve never touched before. I figure each one of these pastors (is) probably impacting at least 50 to a hundred people and probably more than that. And they have a positive impression of Camp Carroll and U.S. military — that can only be good for us.
“It’s kind of like what the Army does,” he added: “‘Train the trainer.’”
The visit began with a briefing for ministers on the mission of Camp Carroll, a sprawling logistics base in Chilgok County. It also included a driving tour of the post for a look at key facilities, including the commissary and post exchange.
Among several stops were one at the gym and another at the Materiel Support Center-Korea’s heavy equipment division, where tactical vehicles and other military hardware are repaired. And they dined at an Army chow hall.
“They expressed to me the tour was very beneficial to understand Camp Carroll — what we do here,” said Pak Chong-ku, the post’s community relations officer.
Plumley said, “For Camp Carroll, that is going to become part of our program in some capacity. I want to establish … a group type of relationship between our chaplain’s office and the Chilgok County Christian Association.”
That could include the chaplain visiting South Korean worship services and local pastors being invited to on-post chapel events, Plumley said.
Camp Carroll also probably will invite the county Christian Association’s president to join the post’s Commander’s Advisory Council. It consists of about a dozen post officials and 12 members of the outlying community, who look at how each community can assist the other, Pak said.
The council’s next meeting tentatively is set for May 25, Pak said.
Area IV spokesman Kevin Jackson said the support activity likely will adopt a similar approach at its other installations in the region.
“Clergy are a very important part of every community and it’s certainly no different here in Korea,” he said.