After South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said it would redouble efforts for the early return of 26 U.S. Forces Korea’s (USFK) bases, former USFK Commander Vincent Brooks said Monday that the plan is “surprising,” as no concrete decision has been made regarding the issue. He also said that it is up to Seoul to make a decision on the proposed relocation of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC).
According to Voice of America on Wednesday, Brooks said that the defense ministers of Seoul and Washington agreed in June to relocate the CFC to the USFK base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, creating a new timetable but that the timing of the relocation could be postponed due to the need to fine-tune details including the logistics and the redeployment of the CFC headquarters’ facilities in the Pyeongtaek base.
Brooks, who served as the top commander of the USFK between April 2016 and November 2018, noted that he accelerated the relocation of USFK bases to Pyeongtaek during his term in office, completing the moving of the USFK bases, the United Nations Command and the U.S. Army’s Second Infantry Division’s command post. It was agreed that the Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul will also be relocated to Pyeongtaek by the end of this year, except for some facilities to remain in Yongsan. The retired U.S. general stressed that it is up to the South Korean government to decide where to relocate the CFC and how it will be maintained in a new location.
Cheong Wa Dae announced Friday that Seoul would seek an early return of U.S. military bases across the country. The militaries of the two allies will reportedly make a final decision on the CFC relocation at a bilateral Security Consultative Meeting to be held in Seoul in late October.