Hendrix: Area IV growth must be coordinated with services
The U.S. Army’s new commander in southern South Korea is moving to ensure that any eventual influx of troops and families to the region doesn’t outpace the availability of schools, commissaries and other key services.
Col. Donald J. Hendrix said last week one of his key priorities is fostering close coordination between the Army and those who provide crucial services in Area IV, to ensure the area doesn’t “expand too quickly.”
“We’re both supporters of the same group and we have to be linked, we have to be hooked at the hip,” said Hendrix, who last month took command of Area IV Support Activity at Camp Henry in Taegu.
“And it’s that partnership that allows us to have that synchronization,” Hendrix said. “Because if you don’t, you expand too quickly where your other support mechanisms can’t keep up with what you’re trying to do.”
The U.S. military foresees an eventual increase in the number of troops stationed in Area IV, which includes Camp Henry, Camp Walker and Camp George in Taegu; Camp Carroll in Waegwan and Camp Hialeah in Pusan.
The increase — which officials said is being planned — will see construction of new barracks, commissaries, schools, medical and other facilities.
It’s part of the military’s South Korea-wide plan to consolidate forces south of Seoul, the nation’s capital, over the next decade.
“Today, we’re pouring millions of dollars into our facilities into either barracks renovation or family housing,” Hendrix said.
“You can see that, just in looking at all the posts in around the Henry-Walker-George and Carroll areas — there’s a lot of work going into them. And we’re wanting to make sure that that’s synchronized,” Hendrix said.
Without coordination, Hendrix said, Area IV could run into problems that surfaced last week in central South Korea, where some students from nonactive duty families were unable to attend on-base schools because an increase in active-duty families crowded them out.
Active-duty families get priority placement over those from families of Defense Department civilians, civilian contractors and others who are not on active-duty. Some students in the nonactive-duty category are on waiting lists.
“There are a thousand examples,” of what problems can arise if services and troop assignments aren’t in balance, said Hendrix.
“If in fact you were to increase the number of family members here, without the appropriate space for them to attend school — I think we’re seeing that example already,” said Hendrix of the situation in central South Korea.
The same, he said, holds true of sewer, water and other services, including commissaries, if, for example, a new housing complex were to be built.
“That same housing complex, if we were to build it, you don’t have a commissary that’s capable of meeting the needs of the increased patrons, then they’re going to have to resort to restocking or some other warehousing technique that would allow them to put more groceries on those shelves,” Hendrix said.
“If you don’t worry about the downstream effects, then you’re just creating additional problems,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix has arranged meetings with members of key services including the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Korea District Department of Defense Dependents Schools and Taegu city officials.
DODDS Korea chief of staff Warren Tobin told Stars and Stripes last week that DODDS officials plan to stay closely tied in with the military’s planning.
“We would definitely want to be at any master planning meetings he does for Area IV and make sure our piece is included for any growth there,” Tobin said.
Hendrix plans to meet with heads of personnel and finance services, and commanders of military units that are tenants on Area IV installations.
His pitch during meetings with the military community: “Let’s all be one team and marching in the same direction. Don’t just let this happen,” he said of any eventual growth in Area IV population.