South Korea says shifting U.S. bases could cost $4.9 billion
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The total cost of relocating U.S. bases in South Korea likely will top $4.9 billion, including an additional $100 million in higher operational costs for South Korean units taking over some U.S. missions, South Korean officials said Tuesday.
In briefings to the National Assembly, members of the National Defense Committee and the Inspection and Audit Committee submitted reports tallying the total cost of relocating Yongsan Garrison, consolidating and closing several 2nd Infantry Division bases north of Seoul and building expanded troop hubs in the Pyongtaek area to accommodate the relocations.
The Pentagon has not issued its own cost estimates for the relocation or base consolidations.
The additional $100 million would include the cost of Korean units assuming 10 different military missions being handed over by the Americans, officials said.
Under plans agreed to by South Korea and the United States, Yongsan Garrison is to close by the end of 2008. Nine bases in the 2nd ID area will close by the end of this year, with many of the units formerly housed there either already deployed to Iraq or moving to Camp Casey.
Another report presented Tuesday by Chang Young-dal, a member of the Inspection and Audit Committee, said South Korea is required to pay $4.7 billion of the $4.9 billion moving costs, with the United States picking up the remaining $200 million.
Those provisions were made under previous relocation agreements, Chang said.
Also Tuesday, South Korean media reported the two nations are moving closer to agreeing on a related plan to remove 12,500 U.S. troops from South Korea. The original U.S. proposal, made public in June, called for the reduction to be completed by the end of 2005.
South Korean officials pressed for a delay of at least one year. According to Korean media, the two sides are moving toward a delayed target date of 2008 for the reduction to be completed.
The Department of the Army already has said the 3,600 members of the 2nd ID’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team will not return to South Korea after its yearlong mission in Iraq. Instead, they will move to Fort Carson, Colo., effectively meaning one-quarter of the proposed troop reduction already has been completed.