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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A new joint U.S.-South Korean provost office should make it easier for U.S. and South Korean military police to coordinate both in war and peacetime, officials said.

U.S. and South Korean militaries created the combined office. Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, U.S. Forces Korea commander, and Gen. Kim Chong-hwan, the South Korean military’s joints chiefs of staff chairman, signed memorandums earlier this month to put the unit into effect Jan. 1, officials said Monday.

Previously, military police were not part of the Combined Forces Command (CFC), the warfighting unit staffed by South Korean and U.S. military officers. LaPorte also commands the CFC.

“We felt we needed to have a combined operation because policing is such a large part of our daily activities in Korea,” said Lt. Col. Chad McRee, chief of operations for the USFK provost marshal’s office, which began work on the initiative in May 2002.

During peacetime, the unit will develop wartime plans and coordinate military police exercises, McRee said. Four South Korean officers will work beside their U.S. counterparts in the unit, McRee said.

A South Korean officer will be deputy under Col. Peter Champagne, who will be the CFC provost marshal. Two other South Korean officers will work in plans and operations along with a South Korean noncommissioned officer in charge, McRee said.

Having South Korean officers working on the base will allow for direct contact with the defense ministry, McRee said, and help plan support for visiting dignitaries, during ceremonies and demonstrations outside U.S. bases.

The unit also may conduct combined patrols in some areas U.S. personnel often visit, such as Itaewon, he said.

Choe Song-won contributed to this story.

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