8th U.S. Army Starts Moving Out of Seoul
Michelle Jung, April 26, 2017, 9:32 a.m.
The Eighth U.S. Army on Tuesday started moving its headquarters out of the old garrison in Seoul to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, further away from the tense inter-Korean border.
The Eighth Army, which forms the core of the U.S. Forces Korea, held a symbolic ceremony at the Yongsan Garrison on Tuesday morning to take down a statue of Gen. Walton Walker (1899-1950) and ship it to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, the new USFK headquarters.
Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, the commanding general of the Eighth Army, hosted the ceremony with Korean and U.S. military leaders attending.
The relocation mainly aims to consolidate USFK bases scattered across Korea. It was agreed by the presidents of the two countries in 2003 but held up by endless delays, spiraling costs and other problems.
A 300-strong force started relocating in May last year and completed the process this March. Other key units hope to complete their relocation by late June, and the entire process is going to be complete in November.
Only Combined Forces Command headquarters, some support units and the Dragon Hill Lodge will remain at Yongsan until the end of this year.
The 2nd U.S. Infantry Division scattered in Uijeongbu and Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province will relocate to Pyeongtaek late next year.
Once the relocation is complete, USFK troops, who have used outdated facilities in 91 locations nationwide, will be concentrated in Pyeongtaek and Osan in the central region and Daegu, Waegwan, and Gimcheon in the south.
The Pyeongtaek base and the relocation cost a total of about W16 trillion, of which W9 trillion is shouldered by Korea (US$1=W1,127). The Pyeongtaek base is the largest single overseas base operated by the U.S. military.
Seoul wants to turn the Yongsan Garrison into a park and other public facilities, but the base is heavily contaminated.