S. Korea's price tag on relocation of U.S. forces: $5.3 billion
January 21, 2005
SEOUL — South Korea’s government plans to spend an estimated $5.3 billion over the next few years to centralize U.S. troops, now scattered throughout the country, to the Pyongtaek area, the Korean Defense Ministry’s office announced this week.
The announcement was the latest estimate on the multiyear plan to reduce the troop strength and land occupation of U.S. forces throughout the peninsula. A similar announcement in October put the cost at $4.9 billion.
The Defense Ministry’s office had no explanation Wednesday for the revised estimate, although it did release a breakdown of some of the costs.
Of the $5.3 billion, about $3.85 billion would go toward relocating troops from Yongsan Garrison, about $57.8 million toward moving the 2nd Infantry Division south and about $87 million toward moving other U.S. military installations, said South Korean air force 1st Lt. Chung Jong-wo at the Defense Ministry.
The estimates are part of an overall goal to reduce U.S. troop numbers here by about 12,500 — about a third — during the next four years.
Officials from U.S. Forces Korea said Wednesday the numbers were consistent with previous estimates from the Korean government.
Also this week, U.S. and South Korean officials met for two days to discuss their nations’ burden-sharing agreement. Last year, South Korea paid $623 million to defray the costs of keeping U.S. troops here.
Seoul seeks to reduce its share, saying it should have to pay less because it’s funding reduction and realignment plans. Under a 1990 agreement, South Korea has agreed to contribute an amount that fluctuates yearly.