Plans for new 2ID museum in South Korea in doubt
By JON RABIROFF | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 31, 2013
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — The fate of the 2nd Infantry Division Museum is very much in doubt in the wake of a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee report that singled out the planned relocation of the facility as an inefficient use of funds.
“The 2ID Museum will need to be moved at some point, but we have yet to determine a location and fund source to move it in today’s fiscally constrained environment,” a U.S. Forces Korea statement said.
The museum now sits on Camp Red Cloud in Uijeongbu, where it is regularly visited by groups of 2ID soldiers new to the Korean peninsula, among others.
The 2ID has about 10,000 soldiers, most of whom are stationed in South Korea between Seoul and the Demilitarized Zone.
According to the committee report issued in April, plans called for constructing a $10.4 million building in 2014 to house the museum at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek. The vast majority of U.S. troops in South Korea are scheduled to be consolidated on bases south of Seoul in 2016. But a yearlong review by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that the U.S. is bearing a larger share of the cost to maintain military bases in allied countries than in years past, and that some military construction projects in those countries move ahead without proper oversight.
In South Korea, the report said, contributions from the host country “have not kept pace with the growth in U.S. cost,” and that funding is sometimes treated as “free money” to be used on questionable projects.
“Aggressive oversight is critical to ensuring that U.S. and South Korean funds at Camp Humphreys are wisely spent,” the report said. “Oversight weaknesses … risk funds being spent inefficiently or on unnecessary projects.”
Referring specifically to the 2ID museum project, it said: “The committee has traditionally viewed using appropriated funds to construct military museums with some skepticism, and USFK’s interest in using (South Korean) contributions to build the museum raises the question whether those contributions might be better directed toward more mission critical requirements.”
With the fate of the museum now up in the air, USFK said, “We will continue to work with our (South Korean) allies and higher headquarters as we continue planning.”
Director William Michael Alexander, center in suit, talks to U.S. and South Korea Army chaplains during a May 3, 2013, tour of the 2nd Infantry Division Museum on Camp Red Cloud in South Korea on May 9, 2013. U.S. Forces Korea says plans for the relocation of the museum to Camp Humphreys are on hold due to financial concerns in the wake of a Senate Armed Services Committee report critical of the project.
JON RABIROFF/STARS AND STRIPES