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Key U.S. Army Equipment Stays in Korea

Posted October. 06, 2004 21:43,   


12,500 U.S. soldiers are expected to leave Korea by September 2008.

Thus, the total number of U.S. army personnel stationed in Korea will drop below the 30,000 to 40,000 mark to 25,000 for the first time since the USFK’s deployment in 1953. Both the United States and Korea announced this statement on October 6, after finalizing their negotiations on the issue of reducing U.S. forces in Korea.

According to the agreement, a total of 5,000 U.S. soldiers, including the 3,600 U.S. army second corp., second brigade soldiers sent to Iraq in August, will leave Korea before the end of the year.

A second wave of some 3,000 soldiers will leave before 2005, another 2,000 will leave before 2006, and finally, 2,500 soldiers will leave Korea in 2007 and 2008.

Among the reductions proposed by the United States, the Multiple Rocket Launching System stationed along the North Korean border, the AN/TPQ radar that detects the movement of North Korean long-range artillery, and a number of other pieces of equipment will stay in Korea after the U.S. stressed the fact that they are needed to deter North Korean military capabilities.

Of the three Apache helicopter squadrons that Korea wished to remain, the smallest-scale squadron of them will leave Korea, but the other two squadrons will be replaced with the newer Longbow models.

Also, despite the decrease in the number of soldiers in the second corp., the U.S. army decided to leave the second corp.’s tanks, field artillery, and other major combat equipment in Korea in order to quickly equip reinforcements in the case of a war in the Korean peninsula.

An Gwang-chan, chief policy-maker at the Ministry of National Defense, said, “Although the number of U.S. soldiers will decrease in number, after the U.S. army’s second corp. is reorganized and $11 billion (12.65 trillion won) is spent to increase the military capabilities of the U.S. forces in Korea, the U.S. army will hold considerably more actual combat capabilities.”

Kim Sook, the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s and Trade’s Director of North American Relations who also participated in the negotiations, stated, “There will be no longer any other modifications to the plans, and the agreement was final,” in effect turning down any future possibilities of additional reductions.

The negotiations came to an agreement that took nearly 16 months after the U.S. initially proposed to reduce U.S.F.K. during the second “Future of the Alliance (FOTA)” talks held in June of last year.

Ho-Won Choi bestiger@donga.com