18:53 GMT +317 October 2019
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    United States Forces Korea (USFK) soldiers line-up during a display of military equipment at Yongsan US military base in Seoul. (File)

    Movin' on Out? US Forces Korea Shifts Headquarters Further From DMZ

    © AFP 2019 / CHOI JAE-KU
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    US Forces Korea (USFK) opened their new headquarters in South Korea's Pyeongtaek on Friday in an attempt to consolidate US troops south of the Demilitarized Zone, the US State Department revealed Tuesday.

    The new headquarters at Camp Humphreys is located some 40 miles south of the Yongsan garrison, which US Forces Korea has used as its base since 1957, Military.com reported. The United Nations Command (UNC) has also joined USFK in Pyeongtaek.

    "The move from Seoul to Camp Humphreys signifies a transition for the two commands, which have been based at US Army Garrison Yongsan since the end of hostilities in the Korean War," the news release from the Pentagon states, adding that the cost for the "transformation and relocation effort of the command" is roughly $10.7 billion.

    The Friday opening ceremony saw the new headquarters building dedicated to US Army Gen. John William Vessey Jr, who was the first commander of the Combined Forces Command. Guests at the ceremony included Vessey's son, David, and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young Moo.

    Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, who heads the USFK, UNC, and the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command, told attendees at the ceremony that critics should not see the move as the US backing away from its commitment to defend the Korean Peninsula, according to Military.com.

    The move "represents the significant investment in the long-term presence of US forces in Korea," the outlet quoted Brooks saying.

    According to Stars and Stripes, Brooks also indicated that South Korea has covered 90 percent of the cost "to develop Camp Humphreys from a remote airfield into the equivalent of a small American town."

    Addressing the matter of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command not joining in on the move, Brooks stressed that the shift "represents the start of a new era and a new set of relationships."

    "Our relationships and our histories and intertwined and they are strong enough to support this separation without weakening any of the three commands," he said. "US Forces Korea will remain the living proof of the American commitment to the alliance."

    The move to Camp Humphreys is the result of a 2004 agreement between the US and South Korea allowing Seoul to reclaim parts of Yongsan. The move was supposed to take place in 2008 before being pushed back several times due to construction and quality control issues, Stars and Stripes reported.

    The 2nd Infantry Division, currently located just north of Seoul, is also expected to move to Camp Humphreys. An exact date has not been set.


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