USFK’s Area II commander sees progress after two-year tour
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Making Area II the “assignment of choice” in South Korea, said the area’s outgoing commander, was the most important accomplishment of his two-year tour.
Col. Timothy McNulty said he localized U.S. Forces Korea’s push to make the peninsula a popular assignment.
“That is just a program where I go out and solicit the 24,532 folks that live, work and play here in Yongsan to give me suggestions, show me ways to make improvements in … how we operate the installation,” he said.
McNulty, who turns over command to Col. Ronald C. Stephens on Thursday, said the program works because he empowered his staff to make changes.
“With all those folks looking to … make suggestions for making improvements and a staff that’s willing to take them and run with them, how can we not be the assignment of choice here in Korea?” he said.
As Area II commander, he oversaw Yongsan Garrison and Hannam Village in Seoul, camps Colbern, Market, Yongin and Tango, K-16 Air Base, the 8th Army Retreat Center and Sungnam Golf Club.
“To be able to put it all together,” he said, “be able to create an environment where people could go out and do good things and work on quality of life for folks … it’s just been tremendous.”
One of his challenges, he said, was keeping his people safe when they spent time off the garrison.
“We’ve made some big inroads with … the Korean business community in terms of the Itaewon Bar Association and their support for our force protection issues,” he said.
Owners agreed to check bags carried into their establishments and check IDs to keep teenagers out of the bars.
He also pushed for and worked with local authorities to clean up Itaewon’s infamous “Hooker Hill” prostitution den. Itaewon also is a popular shopping and nightlife district next to Yongsan Garrison.
“We wanted to clean that up,” he said. “And for the most part, I think we have. If you walk up the hill now … you don’t see the girls outside trying to pull people in. I know that we haven’t cleaned it up 100 percent but it’s a lot cleaner now that it was two years ago.”
Another challenge was funding, McNulty said. Early this year, garbage began piling up near restaurants, offices and residences when the military’s landfill was full and there was no money to have it emptied. By early March he’d freed enough money to start regular garbage pickup.
“We worked strategies to be able to … minimize the effects on the community,” he said. “Yeah, we had some hurdles, we had some struggles, but we’ve got through it.”
When the command receives funding for the rest of the year, programs will be fully in place so the money can be used in areas that might have lacked needed resources in the beginning of the year, he said.
“What I don’t want to do is just spend money because we’ve got it,” he said. “We’re going to spend it right to make sure we take care of the needs of the community.”
The biggest problem, McNulty said, is lack of E-5 and E-6 on-base housing. Programs are in place to bring some existing quarters up to standard so arriving soldiers need not live off post, he said. “I’m willing to spend money to give them the quality of life they deserve.”
McNulty also said being here with his family helped him keep in touch with the community.
“Not only was I more in tune with the needs of the sports programs or the schools because of my children’s involvement … I was also more visible to the community and … folks knew if they had an issue or something to talk about, they could always track me down at one of those places.”
McNulty’s next assignment will be chief of staff of the Strategic Deployment and Distribution Command in Alexandria, Va.