U.S., S. Korea mulling delay of troop relocation
January 7, 2009
The United States and South Korea are negotiating a proposal that could delay the relocation of U.S. Forces Korea from Seoul by two years, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
Under the current agreement between the countries, the headquarters in Seoul and the 2nd Infantry Division that sits sprawled along the demilitarized zone are to relocate about 40 miles south of the capital to Camp Humphreys by 2012.
A ministry spokesman, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, also said Monday that the 2nd Infantry Division’s move could be delayed until 2016.
The spokesman said negotiators have agreed on some parts of the proposal, but no final decision has been made in the overall timetable.
He said the proposal came from the Project Management Consortium group both governments hired to manage the move.
U.S. Forces Korea officials, queried Monday, replied via e-mail that "we do not comment on ongoing negotiations."
The spokesman said U.S. officials are pushing for delays because of budgetary concerns, but that South Korea wants the relocation as quickly as possible.
USFK commander Gen. Walter Sharp said last month that the United States and South Korea had rejected several proposals by the Project Management Consortium.
"Both the [Republic of Korea] government and the U.S. government are pushing very hard for this consortium to come up with the quickest way we can move and the least costly way that we can move, and to balance those," Sharp said during a news conference in December about a plan to normalize tours in South Korea.
Yonhap News reported Monday that the two countries had agreed on the 2014 delay for Seoul, but that they hadn’t come to an agreement on the 2nd ID relocation.
Humphreys, once a small helicopter base set amid the rice fields of semi-rural Pyeongtaek, is being transformed into a state-of-the-art installation that is to house the majority of U.S. troops in South Korea.
By the time the transformation is complete, Humphreys will have tripled in size and boast billions of dollars in the newest and biggest facilities — a major hospital, schools, family housing complexes, post exchanges and commissaries, barracks, training ranges and other military structures, along with a high percentage of families and troops on three-year tours.