Funding for U.S. troop shift gets preliminary OK in S. Korea
A parliamentary committee of South Korea’s National Assembly endorsed a bill Tuesday for moving troops and organizations at the U.S. military’s Yongsan Garrison from Seoul to Pyongtaek in central Korea, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Assembly’s foreign affairs and trade committee has forwarded the bill to the main Assembly for a vote, which could come sometime this week.
Passage could clear the way for the U.S. military to bound forward in carrying out its plans to consolidate its forces to two regional hubs in South Korea’s lower half, plans including the move out of Yongsan.
The bill, if passed, would enable South Korea’s government to spend from $3 billion to $4 billion to relocate the Americans from Yongsan to the Pyongtaek region, a central Korean area including Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base.
Consolidating into hubs is one part of the Land Partnership Plan, a landmark 2002 U.S.-South Korean accord.
Air Force Lt. Col. Deborah Bertrand, a spokeswoman for U.S. Forces Korea in Seoul, referred queries Tuesday night to South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense.
Under the far-reaching LPP, the United States would close more than half its installations in South Korea — a process already begun — hand back thousands of acres to South Korea and consolidate its forces into the two hubs.
The projected hubs are Pyongtaek and the Taegu-Pusan region, in southeastern South Korea.
The U.S. military already has begun closing various smaller camps in the northern part of the country, in the 2nd Infantry Division area between the Demilitarized Zone and Seoul. And it’s moved forward with major construction projects — new barracks, family housing, commissaries, base exchanges — at various installations in the country, most notably at Humphreys and Osan, that are to lay the groundwork for eventual enlargement of those installations.