Aerial tour shows progress, sore spots at sprawling Camp Humphreys
By MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 14, 2017
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Originally a small fighter base during the Korean War, Camp Humphreys has transformed into the peninsula’s largest military installation.
Aerial snapshots taken Wednesday show a transformation 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal calls 80 percent done.
Barracks and training ranges can be seen sprawling along the banks of Anseong River to the north as family housing and schools cut into vast rice paddies to the south.
Four-lane boulevards bisect block after block of new buildings. The base looks more like the massive U.S. installations of Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas than it does the old Korean War-era camps filled with Quonset huts north of the Han River.
However, the images also show sore spots for the $10.7 billion project aimed to fulfill a 2004 agreement between Seoul and Washington to move the bulk of U.S. forces 40 miles south of Seoul.
The hospital is still under construction and way behind schedule after a series of quality control issues. The downtown complex looks complete from the outside, but remains a ghost town because interiors aren’t finished.
A golf course, which should be the heart of Humphreys’ recreational facilities, won’t see a birdy or a bogey until next summer at the earliest. The general officer houses overlooking the course also await final touches and the leaders who’ll live in them.
Vandal projects the Camp Humphreys transformation will be done by 2020, three years after the last deadline of 2017 and more than a decade since officials declared the project would be finished by 2008.