USFK hopes initiatives will stem off-base troubles
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea officials are taking action after a spate of off-base incidents involving soldiers and family members.
“The command will be instituting a series of initiatives to minimize any future occurrences,” USFK deputy commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell said in a command statement released Tuesday.
Such initiatives are to include increased joint patrols between U.S. military police and Korean National Police, an increased “leader presence” in entertainment districts, an extensive review of procedures for granting off-base pass privileges, and more “good neighbor” training for U.S. soldiers, Campbell said in the statement.
“I deeply regret the recent incidents that have resulted in injury to Korean civilians,” he said. “These isolated acts cast our whole command in a poor light. They demean our efforts to sustain the countless positive relationships we enjoy with our Korean friends and neighbors.”
USFK is cooperating with South Korean authorities to ensure those responsible are brought to justice, he said.
USFK’s public affairs office was unable to provide additional details on the initiatives Tuesday. But Stars and Stripes reported Sunday that 2nd Infantry Division military police requested expanding joint patrols with the Korean National Police to cover downtown Uijongbu and entertainment areas near camps Red Cloud and Stanley.
The joint patrols already are conducted near Camp Casey in Dongducheon City.
Maj. Karl Ivey, 2nd ID spokesman, said division soldiers receive good-neighbor training, including Korean language and culture lessons, when they arrive in South Korea and get more such training throughout their tour.
He also said soldiers need passes signed by their company commanders to get overnight leave.
“There is a risk assessment we have to do that deals with the health and welfare of the soldier,” Ivey said. “We don’t give passes to soldiers who are pending adjudication of any kind, whether that is internal to the Army or trouble off-post. They are flagged and their pass privileges are revoked.”
At a New Horizons Training Day at Camp Red Cloud on Tuesday, soldiers were briefed on curfews and off-limits areas, courtesy to others, the division’s good-neighbor program involving various activities with the community, identity theft, prostitution and human trafficking, and sexual assault prevention.
Soldiers interviewed by Stripes at the training said they seldom visit off-post entertainment areas and have no problem with new measures to prevent off-duty incidents.
Spc. Roxana Cheregi, 31, of Chicago said she had cut back on drinking alcohol and going out on the town while she trained for the Ironman Korea Triathlon.
She said she had seen soldiers behaving badly off-post, throwing beer bottles and being loud.
Pfc. Jofrank Peregrina, 20, of Kansas City, Kan., said he doesn’t drink alcohol.
He said he also had observed bad behavior from drunken soldiers of all ranks and said he supported stricter regulation of off-post behavior.
South Korean police pursue recent incidents
¶ South Korean police have forwarded assault charges to local prosecutors in connection with a July 2 incident in which a U.S. soldier is accused of striking a South Korean man in the face with a beer bottle. The police said the soldier, identified as only Pfc. Walker, confessed to the attack.
¶ South Korean police said three U.S. soldiers were apprehended in connection with a reported assault of a South Korean taxi driver and two bystanders in Uijongbu on July 15. The investigation continues and the soldiers are in U.S. military custody, South Korean police said.
¶ In another case, three teenage children of U.S. military members were apprehended in connection with a Saturday incident, said South Korean police. A 13-year-old is accused of smashing the front window of a moving bus with a whiskey bottle. The police said they turned the youths over to U.S. authorities but still seek three other youths they believe also were involved in the incident.
¶ Also Saturday, a 23-year-old U.S. soldier, identified by South Korean police as Spc. Eugene McDaniel, stationed at Camp Market, was apprehended. He’s accused of assaulting a bar owner and two employees, abusing passers-by and blocking traffic by lying down in the street.
— Stars and Stripes