Defence & Security News - United States and South Korea
|Thrusday, September 4, 2014 10:43 AM|
|USA and South Korea to set up first combined army division in 2015|
South Korea and the United States have agreed to establish a combined army division in early 2015, which will be headed by a U.S. major general-level officer, Seoul' s defense ministry said Thursday. The combined division will be composed of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division in Uijeongbu, north of the capital Seoul, and a South Korean brigade-level unit, according to the ministry.
South Korean and US troops on DMZ
It would be the first time that the U.S. military sets up a combined army unit with troops of another country.
The army unit will be led by a U.S. major general, with a South Korean brigadier general to be named as assistant division commander. The number of staff officers will be equally allocated to the two countries.
Choi Yun-hee, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti have recently agreed to set up the unit, tasked with wartime operations, to strengthen defense posture of combined forces at a tactical level, the ministry said.
In peacetime, the unit only maintains a joint staff section, which is forecast to be composed of about 30 staffs.
During wartime, it will be changed into a reinforced division with South Korean troops as a main force and a part of soldiers from the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division as well as a South Korean armored brigade under its wing.
Details on the new unit's mission are not available, but it would be reportedly tasked with special operations such as the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the civil affairs operation against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The U.S. forces used to dispatch a Maryland-stationed special unit, tasked with eliminating WMD, to the joint war game "Key Resolve" with South Korean troops, which is conducted on the Korean Peninsula in the first half every year.
Despite the new unit creation, there will be no change in a plan to relocate military bases of U.S. forces in South Korea, the defense ministry said. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in the country now.
Under the 2004 agreement, Seoul and Washington would relocate the U.S. military headquarters in central Seoul and the 2nd Infantry Division in Uijeongbu north of Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, some 70 km south of Seoul, by the end of 2016.