S. Korea’s USFK funding misses U.S. mark
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — South Korea’s government continues to increase its yearly contribution to the military alliance with the United States but falls short of what the U.S. Congress thinks it should pay, documents show.
For fiscal year 2003, which ended Sept. 30, South Korea pledged about $539.5 million in direct support, according to the 2004 U.S. Forces Korea Fact Book. The figure represents about 45 percent of the non-personnel costs of stationing U.S. troops in South Korea.
The figure moves South Korea more toward goals Congress set in 1997, that countries should offset 75 percent of such non-personnel costs. In a July 2003 report, the Defense Department set an interim goal, that nations would fund about 50 percent of non-personnel stationing costs.
South Korea’s contribution also is up from fiscal 2002, when it paid about $490 million, or 41 percent, of non-personnel stationing costs, USFK commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte told Congress last year. In 2001, the country contributed $425 million.
A precise figure for fiscal 2004 — under way now — was unavailable. But South Korea agreed with the United States to base its 2003 and 2004 contribution on a formula: an 8.8 percent increase over the previous year plus inflation.
Excluding host nation funds, USFK projects its Fiscal 2004 budget is around $1.34 billion, according to the fact book. South Korea contributes money — called burden sharing — in four ways:
• For Fiscal 2003, South Korea pledged around $242.2 million for Korean base employees’ salaries, covering about 71 percent of the total cost, with USFK paying 29 percent.
The contribution also included:
• $76.8 million for logistics cost sharing, which includes equipment, supplies, storage for categories such as ammunition and transportation.
• $59.3 million in combined defense improvement projects. In this program established in the late 1970s, the Army Corps of Engineers designs projects and the South Korean Defense Ministry awards contracts. This must be approved by the chairman of South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff.
• $161.2 million for construction. The South Korean Defense Ministry provides cash to USFK for design and construction and can’t veto projects.
Construction projects for USFK end up benefiting South Korean companies who contribute supplies, according to “ROK-US Alliance and USFK,” a South Korean Ministry of National Defense publication.
“In an overall perspective, burden sharing … benefits Korea by creating job opportunities, contributing to the local economy and creating more domestic demand,” the publication states.
Since 1991, the United States has negotiated a Special Measures Agreement with South Korea that dictates how much the country would contribute to the alliance.
Compared to 27 other nations with whom the United States has burden-sharing agreements, Japan contributes the most, the Defense Department reported to Congress in July. Japan contributed $4.6 billion, offsetting 75 percent of U.S. stationing costs in 2001, the report said.
By comparison, South Korea offset 39 percent of U.S. non-personnel stationing costs that year, the report stated. A number of countries contribute 50 percent or more of stationing costs, including Norway, Oman, Luxembourg, Japan, Belgium, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the report said.