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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Transformation of the U.S. military will allow more effective reinforcement of 8th Army by forces stationed in the continental United States or Japan should war break out with North Korea, 8th Army chief of staff Col. William Ivey says.

Ivey told Japanese and U.S. media at Yongsan Garrison on Friday that the transformation occurring within 8th Army is an Armywide process that will create lighter, more lethal and more mobile units.

“U.S. armed forces in Japan are also going through a transformation. A combat service support unit in South Korea or Japan will look exactly the same. The U.S. forces in Japan, should a conflict break out, will be a key part of a reinforcing effort here in Korea,” he said.

After transformation, the United States will be able to reinforce its forward-deployed forces on the peninsula much more quickly, he said.

“These forces don’t have a problem fitting into how we fight over here,” he added. “Their communications systems are the same as ours, so they can talk to us.”

New technology will enable 8th Army to feed reinforcements an accurate computerized picture of the situation on the ground in South Korea before they leave their bases in the United States or Japan, Ivey said.

“As we transform we are going to become lighter and more lethal. We can get the job done with fewer numbers of people because of $11 billion in enhancements such as new weapons systems,” he said, referring to the recent fielding of new missile launchers, Patriot air-defense systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and tanks in South Korea.

New computerized command-and-control systems will help mitigate the tyranny of distance, allowing U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon J. Laporte to see the same overall picture in South Korea as the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, the Pacific Command in Hawaii or the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, he said.

“You can disseminate vast amounts of data at the speed of light. It has gone a long way towards improving situational awareness across all levels of command,” Ivey said.

The South Korean military is transforming alongside the U.S. forces, he said.

“Together we are building communications systems that talk to each other. The Koreans are fielding the same technology. It allows us to communicate with our South Korean allies much better. It is not just U.S. Army feeds but ROK (Republic of Korea) military, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy feeds coming into the picture,” he said.

The transformation of U.S. forces in South Korea also involves collapsing forces into fewer camps, Ivey said.

“This allows us to be more effective and efficient and return land to the Korean government. We recently closed Camp Page (near Chunchon). It is the ninth camp we have closed in the last seven to eight months. We have become more efficient and make better use of the American taxpayer’s dollar,” he said.

Ivey emphasized that 8th Army’s sole mission remains the defense of South Korea.

“As we move forces around it is all done in consultation with the South Korean government,” he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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