First unit moves from Yongsan
SEOUL — The first major unit to leave U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan as part of a massive relocation of troops in South Korea will complete its move to U.S. Army Garrison-Humphreys this week.
Twenty-four soldiers with the 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion are to finish the move by Dec. 12 to Humphreys, a once-sleepy helicopter base that eventually will house most U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
About 100 soldiers with the unit are already at Humphreys because they moved directly there when they arrived in South Korea, said 8th Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Buczkowski. Six of the incoming soldiers, who are part of the battalion’s headquarters in Seoul, will move with their families.
The battalion’s headquarters at Yongsan’s Seobinggo compound will be used by another unit to ease overcrowding, Buczkowski said.
All U.S. bases in and north of Seoul are scheduled to close by 2012, with Humphreys and a collection of bases in Daegu becoming the two hubs for the U.S. military in South Korea. Approximately 17,000 troops, 4,700 U.S. civilian employees and 13,000 family members will live at Humphreys when construction there is completed.
The move may not happen as planned in 2012, however. U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Walter Sharp said in September that the timeline for the move is being reassessed, and South Korean media have speculated that the move could be delayed until 2016 because of slow construction and funding concerns.
The country currently is home to about 28,500 servicemembers. Longstanding plans for a drawdown — currently on hold — call for that number to eventually reach 25,000.
Humphreys spokesman Robert McElroy said it could be several years before the next large unit moves to the installation. The speed of the relocation depends on how quickly new barracks and support facilities for soldiers — including administrative offices, motor pools and maintenance buildings — are built, he said.
"We can’t move anybody until we have somewhere to put them," he said.
Six new barracks are under construction at Humphreys and are scheduled to be completed in June 2010. Two new barracks at Zoekler Station within Humphreys opened Oct. 28, and a new gymnasium opened Dec. 1, McElroy said.