Korean Service Corps demonstrates transformation for wartime support
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The Korean workers who help keep U.S. buildings wired, toilets flushing and supplies moving throughout the country during peacetime would turn into a force of more than 30,000 should war break out, U.S. and Korean officials demonstrated during an annual exercise here Tuesday.
The Korean Service Corps is a paramilitary group that provides the U.S. 8th Army logistical support during peacetime. But in wartime, the group would draw on its reserves and fan across the peninsula to help build infrastructure, maintain weapons supplies and transport supplies for American troops, said Lt. Col. Robert J. Paquin, the Korean Service Corps Battalion commander.
Service corps units would be attached to existing 8th Army units — such as the 2nd Infantry Division or the 18th Medical Command — to provide assistance, a unique relationship between the Army and another nation, 8th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell said Tuesday.
“We couldn’t accomplish our armistice mission without the KSC battalion,” Campbell said after watching Tuesday’s demonstration.
Paquin and KSC battalion representatives demonstrated deployments of service corps reserves during an hourlong presentation in Trent Gym at Yongsan.
During war, the corps’ companies would grow from 15 to more than 200. To show how those companies would spread across the country, each “commander” reported to an existing camp on the gym floor, which was covered by a map of Korea and signs marking U.S. camps.
Then the commanders split off from their reporting area to their unit assignment. The movement of more than 200 commanders moving across the Korea map toward their eventual assignment took more than 30 minutes. In real time, it would take 80 days to deploy the 36,000 corps members, Paquin said.
After the demonstration, Paquin talked about some of the improvements he hopes to see in time for next year’s exercise. Those include collecting and storing more clothing supplies for the drafted corps members, establishing a better communication system to understand what jobs need filling because of injuries and casualties, and possibly having a more thorough health screening for the draftees so that Army medical officials will be better prepared to care for the Korean workers.