Aviation unit’s deployment is subject of speculation
Stars and Stripes May 4, 2008
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — An unofficial 2nd Infantry Division source and multiple South Korean news outlets say that an Army aviation battalion will deploy to a combat zone later this year.
U.S. military officials, however, declined to either confirm or deny the reports.
The 2nd ID source told Stars and Stripes in March that the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment had plans to deploy later this year.
When asked in March, 2nd ID officials referred Stars and Stripes to an 8th Army spokesman. The spokesman, Lt. Col. Brodrick Bailey, said in March that he knew of no such plans.
The same 2nd ID source confirmed the deployment again last week but could not say when the unit was scheduled to deploy. The division’s official spokeswoman deferred comment to higher headquarters.
South Korean news outlets have reported that a battalion including Apache attack helicopters will deploy to Afghanistan in the future, citing unnamed officials from the Ministry of Defense and senior national government officials.
The 1-2 regiment, based at Camp Eagle in Wonju, includes Apache helicopters.
In a news release Friday, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Col. Franklin Childress didn’t directly address the battalion’s status but referred to an agreement in April between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and President Bush at Camp David.
Lee asked Bush to postpone the drawdown of U.S. troops on the peninsula from about 28,000 to 25,000.
“The Presidents agreed that the details of implementing the halt to the troop drawdown plan would be discussed between the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the [South Korean] Minister of National Defense,” Childress said. “Their discussions will address the composition for the 28,500 troop level. Those discussions have yet to take place so it is inappropriate to comment or speculate at this time.”
During the past week, South Korean political commentators have questioned whether deploying the battalion would be a retraction of the agreed pause in the drawdown.
However, the unofficial 2nd ID source says that the plan was formed well before the April presidential meeting.
Combined Forces Command officials discussed the media reports at a briefing last week, according to an unclassified document; however, the document did not contain any information verifying deployment plans.