New commander takes lead as Yongsan transition nears final stages
By MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 22, 2018
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A new commander of the Army’s home in Seoul will oversee a transition that’s nearing its end as troops move south to facilities on Camp Humphreys.
Col. J. Scott Peterson handed Yongsan’s keys to Col. Monica Washington during a ceremony Friday at a base gymnasium.
The former operations chief at the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Daegu, South Korea, will preside during some of the last major unit moves to Humphreys, 40-miles to the south.
The U.S. Forces Korea headquarters departs Yongsan next Friday and the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital is slated to go toward the end of next year.
The moves are part of a much-delayed 2004 agreement between the U.S. and South Korea to relocate the bulk of American forces south of Seoul. About 28,500 total U.S. troops serve on the Peninsula.
“[The relocation] is one of largest in the history of department of defense,” said Christine Altendorf, director, Instillation Management Command-Pacific, during the change of command. “The relocation which has been in the making for a very long time is now close to being successfully accomplished.”
Yongsan has been a military hub since the Imperial Japanese Army occupied the site during its occupation of Korea from 1910 until the end of World War II.
“This is a special place,” Peterson told troops and civilian base workers during Friday’s ceremony, “It’s not just a skyline… there’s a quality and character here that you can’t deny.”
Some residual elements may stay at Yongsan beyond 2020 but it will no longer be heartbeat of the U.S. military in South Korea.
Washington will oversee other bases in and around Seoul such as Camp Market and tenant facilities at Seoul (K-16) Air Base and will add responsibility for facilities near the Demilitarized Zone as the commander of the newly formed U.S. Garrison Yongsan-Casey.