New commander plans S. Korea tie-building initiatives
The U.S. Army’s new commander in southern South Korea is planning a fresh round of community-relations initiatives aimed at stepping up existing efforts to build friendly ties between U.S. troops and the South Korean public in the Waegwan region.
Col. Donald J. Hendrix, commander of the Area IV Support Activity at Camp Henry in Taegu, said he’ll move to implement a series of new ideas put forward by members of his Commander’s Advisory Council at Camp Carroll. Hendrix held his first meeting with them Sept. 13. He took command in August.
The unit runs U.S. Army installations in Taegu, Pusan and Camp Carroll, a sprawling logistics base in Waegwan.
The Camp Carroll council is made up of 25 Korean and U.S. Army leaders who advise Hendrix on matters bearing on relations between South Korea and its U.S. military ally.
Hendrix has a similar council in Taegu and another for Camp Hialeah in Pusan.
One idea supported by Hendrix — proposed by Camp Carroll installation manager Wilfred Plumley — would set up a weeklong daytime “English Camp” for Waegwan-area Korean students eager to learn English. The Army previously held an English camp in Taegu.
Also proposed for Camp Carroll is a three-day program that acquaints soldiers with Korean language, history and culture. Known as Head Start, it already operates in Taegu.
Another proposal would see soldiers making tours of the Kyungpuk University College of Science campus in Waegwan. The president of the two-year college, Choe Gae-ho, is a member of the Camp Carroll CAC and told council members he is ready to set up the tour.
He also proposed sporting events between his students and U.S. soldiers.
At the council meeting, Hendrix encouraged Korean members to become a source of ideas on how soldiers and South Korean community members can interact. They pledged their support.
He’d especially like to see them put together a tour of the Waegwan area for new soldiers, at which Korean civil leaders might host a luncheon for the troops, said Kevin B. Jackson, chief spokesman for the Area IV Support Activity.
The Army in Area IV has mounted a vigorous community-relations program since the top U.S. military commander in South Korea, Army Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, launched the so-called Good Neighbor Program in 2003. LaPorte ordered U.S. military units in South Korea to find effective ways of fostering good will between U.S. forces and the South Korean public.
“It’s more a case of building upon a program that we already have in place,” Jackson said of the latest proposals. “It’s a strong program, it’s a robust program. We have various interactions with the Korean people. And what we want to do is take this program to another level.”
Details, including dates, have yet to be worked out, but Hendrix wants to move on the proposals as soon as possible, Jackson said.