USFK disputes news report on Patriot missile brigade
September 4, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea doesn’t plan to activate a Patriot missile air defense brigade, calling a Monday report in a South Korean newspaper “false information,” according to a press release.
The report appeared in the Donga Ilbo, a major South Korean daily newspaper. It quoted an anonymous USFK official as saying “the foundation of a Patriot missile air defense brigade means that we will have an independent and perfect anti-communism net toward the most threatening North Korean ballistics missiles.”
USFK spokeswoman Lt. Col. MaryAnn Cummings said in a press release, “no one in an official USFK role would have such flawed information regarding the previously announced plans to upgrade Patriot air defense capabilities on the Korean peninsula.”
An announcement regarding the Patriots will be available shortly and made jointly with the South Koreans, deputy USFK spokeswoman Lt. Col. Deborah Bertrand said.
USFK commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte said in May that $11 billion will be spent over the next three years upgrading combat systems in South Korea including intelligence equipment, precision munitions and wartime stocks.
The PAC-2 Patriot missiles are also slated to be upgraded to the new PAC-3 model, LaPorte said.
The 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery — a sub-unit of the 6th Cavalry Brigade — has six Patriot batteries at Suwon, Kunsan and Osan air bases.
“North Korea has over 800 missiles, and we would be foolish not to develop countermeasures,” LaPorte said in June to South Korean lawmakers.
Patriot missiles were first deployed to South Korea in 1994, according to Global Security, an Alexandria, Va.-based military think tank.
Cummings said the Patriot upgrade would not include an increase in soldiers or basing changes.
“Equipment enhancements to the air defense capability on the Korean peninsula is an important aspect of the American contribution to the ROK-US alliance, and the details of the upgrade will be properly and jointly announced,” Cummings said in the release. “Any speculative reporting on this matter prior to the full and officials release would be incorrect at best.”