2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins says it’s not certain yet if the 2nd ID will retain its name or change to 2nd UEX for Unit of Employment.

2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins says it’s not certain yet if the 2nd ID will retain its name or change to 2nd UEX for Unit of Employment. (Seth Robson / S&S)

CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — A massive transformation of U.S. forces in South Korea is two years ahead of schedule and involves reshaping units to take advantage of high-tech weapons, 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins says.

2nd ID already has made sweeping changes at the division level, formed a heavy 1st Brigade Combat Team and started forming a multifunction Aviation Brigade, Higgins said in an interview this week with Stars and Stripes.

By midsummer, most of the division will have transformed to a Unit of Employment (UEX), combining division and corps functions, he said.

“It is not decided whether the UEX will still be called 2nd ID. My sense of things is that it probably will, but I don’t know for sure. To call something 2UEX doesn’t resonate real well,” Higgins said.

The changes weren’t slated until 2007 under the Army Campaign Plan published by Headquarters, Department of the Army, but the process for 8th Army and 2nd ID was brought forward by 8th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell, Higgins said.

“It is not a marginal change. We are talking about a major paradigm shift in how we are organized at the division level and in organizations inside the division,” he said.

At division level, that change involved creating a main command post, two tactical command posts and a special troops battalion akin to a headquarters troop command that will be formed within the next couple months, he said.

Second ID already has formed a heavy 1st Brigade Combat Team and has started to form a multifunctional aviation brigade.

“Down inside the heavy brigade combat team we now have two combined arms task forces (based around 1st Battalion, 72nd Armored Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment). Each battalion has two tank companies and two Bradley mechanized companies. We have taken tanks and Bradleys and integrated them on a permanent basis at the battalion level,” Higgins said.

Fourth Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, which flew Kiowa helicopters as part of 2nd ID’s Aviation Brigade, has joined the heavy 1st Brigade Combat Team as an armored reconnaissance squadron with Bradley Fighting Vehicles, he said.

“Also inside this heavy brigade combat team is a brigade troops battalion with military intelligence and signal assets inside it,” he said.

The heavy 1st Brigade Combat Team includes a brigade support battalion and 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, which was part of Division Artillery, he said.

The changes will involve deactivation of some units and others leaving for bases in the United States and elsewhere in the Pacific region, Higgins said, without naming specific units.

Second ID and the U.S. Army are moving toward modular brigade structures including heavy, light and Stryker brigades, Higgins said.

The division, when transformed to a UEX, could control up to five brigades of any type needed to accomplish its mission, he said. This will be tested for the first time in June’s War Fighter division-level training exercise, Higgins said.

New high-tech weapons play a big role in the transformed division. All of 2nd ID’s tanks now are state-of-the-art Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) Main Battle Tanks with enhanced fire control and diagnostic systems. The division also has fielded the latest M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, he said.

“The UEX can operate in expanded battle space and over longer distances. We get the unmanned aerial vehicle available for tactical level surveillance and reconnaissance. It will enhance the capabilities of the UEX to leverage precision fires,” Higgins said.

As part of the transformation, 2nd ID has consolidated its footprint in the Uijongbu and Tongduchoen areas. Several bases occupied by 2nd ID in those areas are slated to close this year, Higgins said.

“That will be the footprint of the division until we are directed to move south to Camp Humphreys,” Higgins said, referring to plans to eventually move all U.S. forces south of Seoul.

author picture
Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now