Patriot missile brigade moving to Camp Carroll
SEOUL — The Patriot missile brigade stationed at Gwangju Air Base will begin its move to Camp Carroll late this week, according to 8th Army officials.
The military hosted a farewell ceremony Friday for the 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment — part of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
The battalion has been based at the South Korean air force installation in the peninsula’s southwest since late 2004. Its estimated 500 soldiers are to finish the move in mid- to late November.
The Army has said Gwangju was a temporary location since moving the unit there from Fort Bliss, Texas, in 2004.
Putting the Patriot interceptors at the installation created controversy among local residents because the community was the site of the 1980 “Gwangju Uprising,” when South Korean troops killed a large number of pro-democracy protesters in a time of political turmoil. The United States has been criticized for not preventing the bloodshed.
During Friday’s ceremony, brigade commander Col. John G. Rossi thanked the Gwangju community for its interaction and support.
“The leaders, soldiers and families of the 35th Brigade are absolutely committed to our enduring alliance and partnership with our ROK counterparts, both military and civilian, and we are very excited about the 2-1 ADA move,” Rossi was quoted in a news release as saying.
The move is part of the U.S. Forces Korea and 8th Army realignment of forces on the peninsula. According to the release, it will allow for optimal war-fighting readiness and will provide unit members the improved quality of life that comes with living in a U.S. Army hub.
Troops are to be housed in renovated barracks on Carroll, which also offers amenities including a modern gym and swimming facilities. They’ll also have easy access to medical and dental facilities at Camp Walker and expanded maintenance facilities, according to the release.
The brigade has other Patriot missile batteries stationed at Osan Air Base, the brigade’s headquarters; Kunsan Air Base; and Suwon Air Base, another South Korean installation.
The missiles are meant to knock out incoming aircraft, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles.