Billeting for Ulchi Focus Lens designed to satisfy troops
Stars and Stripes August 29, 2006
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — When the troops began arriving in Area II for a major exercise this month, they were pleased to find air conditioned tents, Internet and e-mail access, and big-screen televisions playing popular movies.
And that, said Area II logistics officials, was the plan.
The troops should be able to “come here, unpack their stuff” and participate in Ulchi Focus Lens, one of two major training exercises held in South Korea yearly, said Lydia Grohmann, Area II director of logistics.
She’s in charge of running five so-called life support areas in the Seoul area. They range from renovated barracks to tent cities. Her personnel take care of showers, meals, trash and restrooms.
A support staff of about 25 people can house more than 1,400 visiting exercise participants for about $600,000 per exercise.
“We do the best we can to give the best quality of life” in the areas, Grohmann said.
Jay Wright, her deputy and chief of supply services, said he believes the troops appreciate their living arrangements.
“I haven’t heard any complaints,” he said.
Exercise participant Army 2nd Lt. Scott Maurer of Camp Hovey spent some of his time off Friday on the computer in the air-conditioned day room at the Walker Center LSA.
“It’s nice,” he said of his billeting. “I’m a quick jog away from the gym; the library is nice and quiet.”
And as a perk, he’d got to “meet a lot of brass” including a few high-ranking generals.
Master Sgt. Bet N. Camacho, noncommissioned officer in charge of the LSAs, said keeping the troops satisfied is a full-time job. She is supported by “LSA mayors,” troops tasked by 8th Army to help run each area.
She said many of the amenities, including the Morale, Welfare and Recreation tents, are open 24 hours a day to serve the troops on the various shifts.
At Camp Coiner, Staff Sgt. Michael Stalsworth was working the MWR tent on Friday. As about a dozen soldiers lounged in padded chairs in the darkened tent, Stalsworth explained that one of the favored amenities is the popcorn machine.
“We make about nine to 12 batches of popcorn a day,” he said.
The Area II logistics personnel also are supported by the 9th Korean Service Corps, whose workers put up, maintain and tear down the LSAs.
Kim Chin-so, 9th KSC foreman, said about 15 of his personnel work on the project daily. On Friday, they were replacing weather-damaged sandbags around the tents.
Area II’s Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Witt toured the Camp Coiner LSA on Friday afternoon.
“A lot of emphasis is placed on safety,” he said. Troops aren’t allowed to plug anything into electrical sockets in the sleeping tents. Instead, items like cell phones and portable DVD players must be charged in the MWR tents. All the tents also are equipped with smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, Witt said.