U.S. might move 8th Army headquarters from Korea to Hawaii

U.S. might move 8th Army headquarters from Korea to Hawaii  From 6/6/08.  http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/  The United States is considering moving the 8th Army headquarters to Hawaii by 2012, when wartime operational control is handed over to South Korea, military sources here said yesterday. Fighting units under the Yongsan-based headquarters, such as the 2nd Infantry Division and the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, are to remain on the Korean Peninsula, they said. The relocation of the 8th Army headquarters to Hawaii, where the U.S. Pacific Command has its headquarters, is intended to revamp the military command structure here, according to the sources. Some critics are concerned that moving the headquarters outside the Korean Peninsula may undermine the deterrent effect of the U.S. Forces Korea. Washington and Seoul vow that the relocation would have the opposite effect by introducing newly enhanced operational capabilities to the remaining 8th Army forces. Serving as a major combat unit during and in the immediate wake of the 1950-53 Korean War, the 8th Army headquarters now plays a largely administrative role for the USFK. Therefore, changes in the headquarters have long been anticipated by both the American and South Korean governments, especially as Washington seeks global realignment to create smaller, more mobile forces, experts say. Seoul, for its part, hopes to take a leading role in its military defense, with the United States eventually having a supporting function. The ministry yesterday said that, while that there would inevitably be changes tothe 8th Army, the U.S. and South Korean governments have yet to work out the details. “It is true that the 8th Army will undergo changes as the United States seeks to realign its ground troops, but no decisions have been made yet,” Jeon Jei-guk, the ministry’s top policymaker, told reporters. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates this week had hinted at potential changes to the USFK, saying that there will “clearly be fluctuations in personnel and units” of the USFK, during a press conference in Seoul. The two allies in 2006 agreed to implement “strategic flexibility” with the USFK, to allow U.S. troops to freely move in and out of the Korean Peninsula as expeditionary forces, so as to more effectively engage in regional conflicts. Washington has pledged to improve the combat capability of its troops by deploying more sophisticated military systems on and near the Korean peninsula. U.S.-South Korean defense dynamics are expected to undergo further changes when Seoul receives wartime operational control from Washington in 2012. In particular, the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command and the USFK – the main pillars of the deterrent against North Korea – will be significantly changed. The CFC will be deactivated, with the U.S. and Korea running separate commands after the transfer of wartime operational command. By Kim Ji-hyun (jemmie@heraldm.com)   ]]>

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