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Extended Assignment for U.S. Forces Korea Sought

Posted February. 13, 2008 07:37,   

한국어

The Defense Ministry and the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry will reportedly lobby the United States to extend the assignment period of U.S. soldiers in Korea from one to two years.

Defense sources confirmed yesterday that the two ministries recently told the presidential transition committee that they will ask the U.S. Defense Department and Congress for the extension by offering more military and diplomatic support.

A senior Defense Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity, “We believe a stable and extended environment for U.S. forces is vital to restoring the bilateral alliance and securing the joint readiness of the two countries. We reported our position and follow-up measures to the committee.”

“When American soldiers stay here longer, they will improve their skills and combat readiness. Furthermore, they will understand Korea much better. They will contribute to the trans-Pacific alliance. We will deliver our position and wish to the U.S. government and Congress through various military and diplomatic channels.”

About 27,000 American troops are stationed in Korea, according to the U.S. military. Ninety percent of them stay for one year and live apart from their families.

The U.S. Defense Department allows 70 percent of its troops stationed in Europe to live with their families during their assignment. But soldiers in Korea are discouraged from doing so due to lack of budget and potentially negative effects on military readiness.

Earlier this month, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Burwell Bell reportedly requested in a meeting of top brass at the Pentagon that more American soldiers be allowed to stay with their families in Korea.

Another military source said, “Once allowed, the longer deployment period of American soldiers in Korea will contribute to stable management of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, including handling of the North Korean nuclear issue. In addition, the incoming Lee Myung-bak administration will start initiatives to reinforce the strained alliance between the two countries.”



ysh1005@donga.com