Osan will host more Air Force families in coming years
Stars and Stripes March 10, 2008
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The number of command-sponsored families at Osan Air Base is expected to double in the next several years.
But because of budget and space constraints, about 90 percent of the base’s airmen still will serve one-year remote tours without family, officials said Friday.
Kunsan Air Base will remain 100 percent a remote assignment, said Air Force Capt. John W. Ross, chief spokesman for Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing.
Osan currently sponsors 236 families on and off base, Ross said. But a certain number of families based at Camp Humphreys, about a 30-minute drive south, also rely on Osan for school enrollment and medical care. No figures on how many Humphreys families use Osan’s schools and hospital were immediately available late Friday, Ross said.
However, a massive expansion under way at Humphreys will see construction of schools and medical facilities, and will mean those stationed at Humphreys eventually won’t rely on Osan for such services, Ross said.
Plans call for Camp Humphreys to triple in size and become the U.S. military’s flagship installation on the peninsula.
As the Humphreys construction progresses, Osan will see a gradual increase in the number of Air Force command-sponsored families it can serve, starting next year and continuing into 2012, Ross said.
Within that three-year period, base officials expect the number of command-sponsored families to grow to 562. About half of those will be housed on base and the rest in off-base housing at Air Force expense, Ross said.
The vast majority of those families will be Air Force, Ross said.
“We are currently expanding our middle school, and that will give us some more room for the school system,” he said.
“But there is no discussion of expanding our hospital, our elementary school or our child development center,” Ross said. “We require a great deal more funding than we currently have to take on those major projects.”
Although Osan now has the resources to support up to 512 command-sponsored families, base officials have kept the figure well below that to avoid overcrowding in such crucial areas as school enrollment and medical care.
“Those are very important places where each individual needs attention,” Ross said.
When a servicemember is accompanied by family under the command’s sponsorship, the tour is two years.
Unaccompanied airmen travel without their families and most likely live in a dorm room here. For people who are married with children, the unaccompanied assignment can be difficult if they spend that year away from their families, Ross said.
Osan supports a total population of 10,200, a number that includes active-duty military personnel, Defense Department civilians, U.S. military retirees, family members and South Korean employees, Ross said.
The base, about 48 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, is home to a fighter wing, U-2 reconnaissance squadron, search-and-rescue helicopter unit and headquarters of the U.S. 7th Air Forces Air Forces Korea.