ROK-U.S. News

Cancellation of single exercise would not affect Korea-U.S. joint posture: defense chief

Yonhap News  |  By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) — Defense Minister Jeong Kyeog-doo has said that the cancellation of a single combined exercise between South Korea and the United States would not affect their joint readiness posture, according to his ministry.

He made the remarks while visiting U.S. National Defense University on Wednesday (Washington time), hours before the announcement by the two sides of the decision to indefinitely postpone their combined command post training slated for March due to concerns over the new coronavirus.

“Different from the past, we are capable of staging exercises in an adjusted manner without affecting our posture by maximizing modernized weapons systems, operational employment systems and the C4I systems,” Jeong said in an answer to a question by a student. C4I means command, control, communications and computers and intelligence systems.

“I don’t believe that the cancellation of a single exercise or training weakens the military readiness posture,” Jeong said, pointing to what he calls the “staunch and fully developed” alliance between the two sides.

It is the first time that Seoul and Washington have postponed their combined training due to health-related issues, though they have previously modified or canceled some drills to support diplomacy involving North Korea.

“All military service branches of South Korea and the U.S. have carried out combined exercises in an adjusted manner, but the number of drills jointly staged remains the same as that in the past and their strength is even greater than before,” Jeong said, stressing that they successfully detected all missile firings by North Korea last year and have presented a watertight posture.

South Korea has seen a drastic surge in COVID-19 cases over the past week. On Thursday morning, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported an additional 334 cases, bringing the total to 1,595 cases and 13 deaths.

The total includes 20 service members and one Army civilian worker.

Around 9,500 soldiers are currently in quarantine as a preventive step. USFK also reported the first coronavirus case among its troops on Wednesday.

Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200227003352325?section=national/defense

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South Korea, US postpone annual military drills due to virus

Military Times |  Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean and U.S. militaries announced Thursday that they were postponing their annual joint drills due to concern about a viral outbreak that has infected soldiers in both countries’ armed forces, put many troops in quarantine and closed base facilities.

Twenty-two South Korean soldiers and one American service member in South Korea have tested positive for the new coronavirus, which has infected about 1,770 people in the Asian country, the largest outbreak outside mainland China.

The allies have previously suspended or scaled back their regular military exercises, but that was part of diplomatic efforts to disarm North Korea, which views the training as a rehearsal for an invasion. It’s the first time that the allies have put off their drills due to concerns about an infectious disease, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

In a joint news conference, South Korean and U.S. military officers said their joint drills planned for the first half of this year will be put off until further notice.

South Korean military chief Park Han-ki proposed the delay out of concerns for troop safety and Robert Abrams, the commander of the U.S. military in South Korea, accepted Park’s proposal based on the severity of the virus outbreak, said Kim Joon Rak, a spokesman at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Lee Peters, a U.S. military spokesman, said the postponement decision “was not taken lightly” and that two countries’ alliance remains “ironclad and unbreakable.”

“Despite the postponement of combined training, the ROK-US alliance remains committed to providing a credible military deterrence and maintaining a robust combined defense posture to protect the ROK against any threat,” he said. ROK stands for the Republic of Korea.

U.S. Army's Col. Lee Peters, director of Public Affairs of United States Forces Korea, and Col. Kim Jun-rak, of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief the media about postponed joint military drills at Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

U.S. Army’s Col. Lee Peters, director of Public Affairs of United States Forces Korea, and Col. Kim Jun-rak, of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief the media about postponed joint military drills at Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

South Korea boasts a 600,000-strong military, while the U.S. has 28,500 troops in the country and those troops are at particular risk due to the close quarters at the bases where they are stationed.

In recent days, South Korea suspended some unilateral field training, placed 9,990 troops under quarantine and banned most of its enlisted soldiers from leaving their bases. The U.S. military closed some amenities at several bases and was urging its personnel to avoid handshakes and large gatherings if possible.

Experts say the postponement of the drills was inevitable because the potential spread of the virus into military barracks could significantly weaken military readiness.

North Korea has not publicly reported any case of the virus, but many experts say the the country also likely reduced its own military training as it’s preoccupied with guarding against the virus.

An epidemic in North Korea could cause a devastating consequence because of its dilapidated medical and health care infrastructures, experts say.

This makes it unlikely that North Korea would launch any major provocation anytime soon though leader Kim Jong Un in late December threatened to unveil “a new strategic weapon” soon, said analyst Kim Dae-young at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy in South Korea.

The U.S. and South Korea were supposed to hold their major springtime drills in March, mostly tabletop exercises and simulations. The drills were revised to create more space in nuclear disarmament diplomacy with North Korea and replaced much bigger exercises that had particularly irritated Pyongyang.

Yang Wook, a military expert who teaches at South Korea’s Hannam University, said the springtime command post drills involve officers gathering at a small place so it’s easier for them to catch the virus if there is a patient.

“If they all wear gas masks and train together, they could be safe. If they can’t do so, it’s not a bad idea to be more cautious,” Yang said.

A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a bus garage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a bus garage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

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US military gives South Korean employees one month notice on unpaid leave

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES

South Koreans working for the U.S. military received a one-month notice Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, that they will be put on unpaid leave if the allies do not come to a defense cost-sharing agreement. KEN SCAR/U.S. ARMY

 

SEOUL, South Korea — The U.S. military gave its South Korean employees a one-month notice Friday that they will be put on unpaid leave if the allies remained deadlocked over a lapsed defense cost-sharing agreement.

The latest warning of an impending furlough comes as South Korean government and American military officials struggle to contain the rapid spread of a dangerous new coronavirus.

The United States has been paying the salaries for some 9,000 local employees with programmed funds after the Special Measures Agreement expired at the end of 2019 as negotiations continued.

But U.S. Forces Korea said that money will run out at the end of next month. The Defense Department has said it will continue to fund “critical” logistics cost-sharing contracts and key positions providing “life, health, safety and readiness services.”

“United States Forces Korea provided their Korean National employees with a required 30-day notice of its decision to commence an administrative furlough that will begin on April 1, 2020 absent an agreed-upon SMA,” USFK said in a press release.

Army garrison commanders reassured their communities recent in town hall-style meetings that mitigating measures had been taken to ensure there would be “limited to no observable reductions” in services pertaining to “life, health and safety.”

Those include the military hospital on Camp Humphreys, the main U.S. base that has a population of more than 30,000, other medical facilities, law enforcement, schools, commissaries and post office services.

However, people could expect increased wait times, modified hours and other delays in bus services, non-emergency maintenance work orders, housing and installation access requests and other administrative needs, officials said.
The command said it was legally required to send furlough notices to all employees by Friday, but “USFK continues to analyze DoD’s decision of who will be subject to the potential furlough.”

The military already sent the employees a 60-day notice and their union received a broader warning in October, raising the pressure on the South Koreans.

The issue doesn’t affect non-appropriated fund organizations such as on-base restaurants, exchange stores, bowling alleys and other community activities that receive money from other sources.

The dispute has become a major irritant in the decades-old alliance between the two countries as they face a growing nuclear threat from North Korea.

Six rounds of talks since last year have failed to reach a consensus, although negotiators from both sides say they have narrowed their differences and the United States has softened its initial demand for nearly $5 billion per year, a fivefold increase.

Washington also is reportedly seeking to broaden the scope of the agreement beyond logistical and salary support to include money for American rotational troops and other off-peninsula costs.

South Korea has demanded that the negotiations remain within the current framework, which requires it mainly fund administrative, logistical and some construction costs.

USFK said it would soon exhaust the programmed funds being used for salaries “without [South Korea’s] continued commitment to share the cost.”

Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of some 28,500 service members stationed in South Korea, warned that the furlough will impact readiness.

“We greatly value our Korean National workforce and their contributions to the [South Korean]-U.S. Alliance,” he said, according to the press release.

“We’ve explored all options that remain within my authority to delay a potential furlough due to the SMA lapse, and we will continue to explore funding alternatives up to and even during a required furlough,” Abrams said. “Unfortunately, without an agreed upon SMA, we must continue to prepare for a potential furlough.”

In addition to the additional Defense Department funding, the military planned to divert troops from their regular units and bring reinforcements from units off the divided peninsula, officials said.

“If there is a furlough, there will be a degradation in services we are accustomed to receiving,” said Col. Monica Washington, commander of Army garrisons in Seoul and areas to the north.

“USFK has employed all options … and are confident we can mitigate the furlough impacts,” she said Monday, citing the use of borrowed military manpower abbreviated and request for forces from other units outside of USFK.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

Article: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/us-military-gives-south-korean-employees-one-month-notice-on-unpaid-leave-1.620620?fbclid=IwAR2Qz96GqMA_06KwFTrEAWL83MaSxqqGWv14B0Jm2OhvwsVWNe44H_dXJtM

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KDVA’s Engagements with ROK Minister of National Defense

February 23-24, 2020

The Republic of Korea’s Minister of National Defense, Minister Jeong, Kyeong-doo requested a meeting with the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) to discuss ROK-U.S. Alliance and veterans topics on February 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Minister Jeong appreciated KDVA’s efforts in supporting both the veterans of the Korean War who fought together with South Korea and defense veterans who have continued to defend South Korea and support the ROK-U.S. Alliance for nearly seven decades.  KDVA and the Minister discussed upcoming events for the 70th Commemoration of the Korean War in Seoul and Washington, DC.  KDVA thanked the Minister for his strong support for our veterans as well as his commitment to the important future of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

Minister Jeong met with KDVA senior leaders, GEN (Ret.) Walter Sharp (KDVA Chairman and President), GEN (Ret.) John Tilelli (KDVA U.S. Vice Chairman), LTG (Ret.) Bernard Champoux (KDVA Board member), Col. (Ret.) Rocky Harder (KDVA Board member), and COL (Ret.) Steve Lee (KDVA Senior VP of Operations).

Minister Jeong is in Washington, DC to meet with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, to discuss Alliance topics and to thank veterans organizations before the 70th Commemoration of the Korean War this summer.

 

On February 24, 2020, KDVA leaders General Tilelli and General Sharp were invited to attend the wreath laying ceremony for U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and ROK Minister of National Defense Jeong, Kyeong-doo at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

General Tilelli also attended as the Chairman of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, which is responsible for ensuring that the Korean War Veterans Memorial will be maintained in perpetuity.  The nonprofit organization is also establishing a Wall of Remembrance to be incorporated with the existing Memorial. The Wall will become the permanent home to the names of the 36,574 American service members and over 8,000 Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) who gave their lives defending the people of South Korea from aggression and ensuring their freedom. For more information or to make a donation for the Wall of Remembrance, please visit http://www.koreanwarvetsmemorial.org.

KDVA is the premier association that supports and advocates for the people who built the Alliance and continue to serve it in U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command.  KDVA is a 501C(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Virginia.  Please contact KDVA at contact@kdva.vet, visit www.kdva.vet, and follow us on Facebook (@kdva.us) and Twitter (@KDVAvets).

 


 

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US military dependent in South Korea diagnosed with coronavirus, triggering precautions

More than 800 people have been diagnosed with the virus in South Korea.

A family member of a U.S. service member has been diagnosed with coronavirus — officially called COVID-19 — in South Korea, as the number of cases in that country continues to explode.In a press release on Monday, U.S. Forces Korea announced that it had been informed by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a military dependent living in Daegu had tested positive for COVID-19. It marks the first time a U.S. Forces Korea-related individual tested positive for the virus, the release said.

In a tweet on Monday, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea Gen. Robert Abrams identified the 61-year old female patient as the widow of a retired soldier.

“We are saddened to hear of her contracting the virus,” Abrams tweeted. “We pray for her recovery.”

According to the release, the woman visited the Camp Walker Post Exchange on Feb. 12 and 15. Korean and American military health professionals are now “actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed.”

In response, U.S. Forces Korea has ordered personnel to limit non-mission essential in-person meetings, gatherings, and temporary duty travel and assignments. It’s also warned personnel to “expect longer wait times, possible temperature checks and screening questionnaires at gates to access installations” and instructed personnel to limit off-installation travel. The overall risk of COVID-19 to U.S. military personnel on the Korean Peninsula is now characterized as “high.”

More than 800 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in South Korea, many in the southeastern city of Daegu where the soldier’s widow contracted the virus.

Alex Johnson, an American living in Daegu with his family, told ABC News on Sunday that “daily life has changed for us.”

“Everybody’s wearing masks and gloves,” he said.

Video taken by Johnson showed empty streets and closed restaurants.

“And if you look at this coffee shop here, this says right here: Corona-19 Virus,” Johnson said pointing to a sign on the coffee shop window. “They’re closed because of the virus. They’re not closed because they had a virus problem here, but they’re closed because they had a safety. So basically, most people in our neighborhood are just staying indoors and they’re not going out and doing anything.”

ABC News’ Conor Finnegan and Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Article: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-military-dependent-south-korea-diagnosed-coronavirus-triggering/story?id=69177948

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KDVA’s Dinner with ROK Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs

KDVA’s Dinner with ROK Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs

February 20, 2020

The Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) was invited to a dinner hosted by the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs on February 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Minister Park, Sam-Duck hosted this dinner for KDVA Board members to discuss KDVA’s role in advancing and supporting the ROK-U.S. Alliance and several ROK-U.S. topics related to the 70th Commemoration of the Korean War.  Minister Park was impressed by the scope and variety of activities that KDVA will host or support in 2020 that include:

  • 70th Commemoration of Korean War in Korea and United States (25 June 2020)
  • Armistice Day Commemorations in DC (27 July 2020)
  • ROK-U.S. Alliance Seminars & Forums in Korea (Summer 2020)
  • Education Conferences for Junior Enlisted / NCOs / Officers in Korea (Spring/Fall 2020)
  • 2020 CFC Former Commander/Deputy Commander Forum in DC (TBD)
  • 2020 KDVA-KUSAF Honors Night in DC (Oct 2020)
  • Meet & Greets in DC (Quarterly, next event is on February 28th at 5:00 p.m. in the Old Korean Legation Building)
  • AUSA Hot Topics on ROK-U.S. Alliance in DC

The Minister and KDVA leaders also discussed the possibility of expanding the current Korean War Veterans Revisit to Korea Program to include veterans who served after the signing of the Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953.  This expansion would broaden South Korea’s deep appreciation for the millions of U.S. Service Members who have and continue to support and defend the South Korean people for almost seven decades.

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Senior leaders in attendance were (from left) LTG (Ret.) JD Johnson (KDVA Board member),  LTG (Ret.) Bernard Champoux (KDVA Board member), SGM (Ret.) Troy Welch (KDVA Board member), MPVA Minister Park, Sam-Duck, GEN (Ret.) Walter Sharp (KDVA Chairman and President), MPVA Director General Lee, Seong Choon, and COL (Ret.) Steve Lee (KDVA Senior VP of Operations).  KDVA thanked the Minister for his great support of veterans in South Korea and the United States.

Minister Park is in Washington, DC to meet with U.S. government officials and veterans organizations before the 70th Commemoration of the Korean War this summer.

KDVA is the premier association that supports and advocates for the people who built the Alliance and continue to serve it in U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command.  KDVA is a 501C(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Virginia.  Please contact KDVA at contact@kdva.vet, visit www.kdva.vet, and follow us on Facebook (@kdva.us) and Twitter (@KDVAvets).

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FM says S. Korea, U.S. still have ‘big’ gaps in defense cost talks

Yonhap News  |   By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) — Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday that South Korea and the United States still have “big” gaps in their negotiations over Seoul’s share of the cost for stationing American troops here despite a broadening of “mutual understanding.”

Her remarks came as the two countries are preparing for the seventh round of negotiations expected to take place in Seoul this month to determine Korea’s payments for the upkeep of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea under the cost-sharing deal, called the Special Measures Agreement (SMA).

“Though gaps are still big, the two countries have deepened mutual understanding much more, and we are in a situation where we have to make an agreement based on that understanding,” Kang said in a press briefing.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a press briefing at her ministry in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a press briefing at her ministry in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

The two countries held the latest round of negotiations in Washington last month but failed to reconcile differences on key sticking points, such as the total amount of Seoul’s financial contributions and what should be covered by the new SMA.

Kang said that both sides are well aware of the need to swiftly reach a new deal as it is subject to a ratification process by South Korea’s parliament, whose deliberation process can come to a halt during the April general elections and the subsequent reorganization of its standing committees.

“Though there have not been face-to-face talks (since the last negotiation last month), the two sides have continuously communicated via email or phone, and both countries are well aware that there is a shortage of time given the parliament’s schedule,” Kang said.

Kang also said that Seoul’s negotiating team has been taking into account the concerns that a delay in clinching a new deal could force South Korean workers at U.S. bases to go on unpaid leave and hamper USFK operations.

The U.S. military has already sent a notice of potential furloughs to its nearly 9,000 Korean employees, saying that absent a new SMA, they could be furloughed starting in April.

“I can’t predict when a deal will be struck, but we will engage in the negotiations with the protection of our workers’ rights in mind,” she said.

Later in the day, the union of the Korean employees held a press conference at the National Assembly, calling for an early conclusion of the SMA negotiations and the immediate withdrawal of potential furlough notices.

A major fault line has been whether to expand the scope of the SMA.

Seoul has insisted that the negotiations should proceed within the existing SMA framework, while Washington has demanded that its coverage be expanded to include extra costs such as those for rotations of American troops to the peninsula.

Last year’s SMA, which expired in December, called for Seoul to pay around US$870 million.

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US Forces Korea imposes mandatory 14-day quarantine for US troops returning from China

At nearly $11 billion, Camp Humphreys is a “slice of America” inside South Korea. (Army)

Military Times  | 


U.S. troops headed to South Korea after visiting China must undergo a 14-day quarantine to avoid the spread of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, according to U.S. Forces Korea.

“We are taking all appropriate precautionary measures to prevent any potential spread of the virus,” U.S. Forces Korea commander Army Gen. Robert Abrams tweeted Sunday. “Key for everyone is to follow standard hygiene protocols, and if not feeling well—get screened ASAP!”

Although there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus among members of U.S. Forces Korea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea have identified a total of 15 confirmed cases throughout South Korea.

As a result, the command is requiring all service members returning to South Korea from China’s mainland on or after Jan. 19 to follow a 14-day self-quarantine — even if symptoms are not immediately apparent. Family members and other DoD personnel are also advised to participate in the quarantine following travel from China.

“The directed self-quarantine implementation is mandatory for US servicemembers, regardless if they reside on or off USFK installations, and is highly encouraged for family members, DoD civilians, contractors, United Nation Command military personnel and Korean National employees to follow as well in the interest of public health safety,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement Feb. 2.

While the command said U.S. Forces Korea personnel remain at low risk for contracting the virus, the command added the quarantine is being imposed “out of an abundance of caution.”

On Friday, the Pentagon issued a memo outlining ways service members can reduce the risk of contracting the virus, a move that came after the State Department released a travel advisory to not travel to China.

The Pentagon said DoD personnel returning from China over the past two weeks should receive medical attention immediately, as should those who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus or are exhibiting symptoms like a fever, in accordance with CDC recommendations.

Likewise, the Pentagon said commanders of “individually affected geographic commands” would issue further guidance.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Friday that Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of INDOPACOM, has restricted all DOD travel to China.

“This restriction is specific to the geographic confines of the [People’s Republic of China], and applies to all U.S. military, civilians and DOD contractors,” INDOPACOM spokesperson Maj. Cassandra Gesecki said in an email to Military Times. “There are no travel restrictions from INDOPACOM for DOD personnel in the remainder of the INDOPACOM area of operations.”

“Additionally, all DOD personnel currently in China on temporary duty and in leave status are directed to depart mainland China immediately,” Gesecki said.

On Saturday, the Pentagon said it is ready to provide housing support for 1,000 people who could be quarantined in the U.S. after traveling from China.

Evacuees could be housed at Travis Air Force Base in California; Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California; Lackland Air Force Base in Texas; and the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute at Fort Carson in Colorado.

As of Feb. 2, the World Health Organization said there are more than 14,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, and more than 300 deaths resulting from the virus. There are 146 confirmed cases outside of China, and one death.

Article: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/02/03/us-forces-korea-imposes-mandatory-14-day-quarantine-for-us-troops-returning-from-china/

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Camp Humphreys: Prepare for installation service delays while US, South Korea negotiate cost-sharing agreement

At nearly $11 billion, Camp Humphreys is a “slice of America” inside South Korea. (Arm)


The sprawling Camp Humphreys Army base in South Korea gave a heads up that some installation services are expected to encounter delays, thanks to the expiration of host-nation support last month that helps keep more than 28,000 U.S. troops there.

The 2019 Special Measures Agreement, which expired on Dec. 31, required South Korea to pay nearly $1 billion to offset stationing costs of U.S. troops — amounting to $70 million more from what Seoul paid the previous year. But President Donald Trump is pushing Seoul to pay even more in a 2020 deal, prompting both states to remain at odds with one another over a future arrangement.

“Due to the Special Measures Agreement lapse and implementation of [U.S.Forces Korea] austerity measures, including cessation of overtime pay for Korean National employees, USAG Humphreys will experience some delays to certain installation services, most notably post office hours and after-hours work performed by the Directorate of Public Works,” Camp Humphreys wrote in a Facebook post on Jan. 24.

Additionally, a new bus schedule recently employed that stops several bus routes after 1 a.m. will continue until Washington and Seoul hash out an agreement, Camp Humphreys said.

Camp Humphreys, the largest U.S. base overseas, did note “all matters involving life, health and safety will continue without interruption.” This includes all fire and emergency services.

“We greatly value our Korean National workforce and their contributions to making USAG Humphreys a valued installation, and will continue to provide our community with timely updates that impact installation services,” Camp Humphreys said in the post.

Camp Humphreys did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Military Times requesting a full list of installation services likely to face delays, and whether readiness will suffer until the U.S. and South Korea wrap up a deal.

The base’s notice comes after U.S. ambassador to South Korea, retired Navy admiral Harry Harris, told reporters Jan. 16 South Korean employees working at U.S. installations could receive furlough notices in coming weeks if an agreement isn’t reached, according to Bloomberg.

They’re more likely to complain that the retired Navy four-star is rude and undiplomatic.

U.S. officials additionally said last week the last bit of funding remaining from the previous deal will completely dissolve soon, Bloomberg also reported.

Trump has regularly stated he wants allies to bolster their financial contributions to support U.S. troops. For example, he claimed in February 2019 South Korea was costing the U.S. $5 billion annually, and tweeted in August 2019 that South Korea is a “very wealthy nation that now feels an obligation to contribute to the military defense provided by the United States of America.”

It’s unclear exactly how much money the U.S. is currently seeking from Seoul, but multiple media outlets reported in November the U.S. was requesting $4.7 billion in host-nation support for 2020 — nearly five times the amount South Korea paid in 2019.

On top of that, South Korea has also assisted with major U.S. projects like building Camp Humphreys. The base cost nearly $10.8 billion and former commander of United States Forces Korea, Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, said Seoul paid for approximately 90 percent of the project.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 16, titled “South Korea is an ally, not a dependent.” The op-ed did not disclose a specific amount, but said both parties must “find a better way to share costs of defense.”

“The current special measures agreement captures only a portion of the cost of defending South Korea,” Pompeo and Esper wrote. “The U.S. believes it should cover more. As we improve the burden-sharing arrangement, both sides will benefit.”

“South Korea’s taking on a greater share of the load will ensure the alliance remains the linchpin of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia — and across the world,” they wrote.

Host-nation support agreements have typically lasted five years, but the 2019 negotiations only resulted in a one-year deal. That’s why Washington and Seoul are back at the negotiating table now.

Retired Army Col. David Maxwell, who has several decades of military service in Asia, told Military Times in December that “ongoing problems” would emerge if the Special Measures Agreement expired like it has.

For example, he predicted military personnel would be forced to conduct logistical and administrative essential services in order to keep United States Forces Korea operational, absent host-nation support.

This would continue to be an issue if annual agreements continue, he said.

“There are going to be ongoing problems if the [Special Measures Agreement] needs to be negotiated every year,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell told Military Times on Jan. 25 that once South Korean employees are furloughed, base services and military units will be impacted as service members provide “borrowed military manpower” to conduct assignments that are “outside their normally assigned duties and units.”

“Unit training and readiness will be impacted,” Maxwell said.

Article: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/01/24/camp-humphreys-prepare-for-installation-service-delays-while-us-s-korea-negotiate-cost-sharing-agreement/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2001.27.20&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

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South Korea Is an Ally, Not a Dependent

The Wall Street Journal   |  By Michael R. Pompeo and Mark T. Esper


Seoul can and should contribute more to its own national defense.

South Korean and U.S. Special Forces members in Gunsan, South Korea, Nov. 14, 2019. PHOTO: US AIR FORCE/REUTERS

American presidents have long asked allies to pay more for their own defense—often with lackluster results. But both the U.S. and South Korea now face strategic challenges so large and complex that neither country can afford to allow the status quo to continue. That’s the context of America’s discussions with South Korea about a new special measures agreement.

The U.S.-South Korea alliance is the linchpin of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia. Shared values of and prosperity in Northeast Asia. Shared values of democracy, the rule of law and open economies form the foundation of an alliance that is as vital today as it was in 1953. America’s longstanding commitment and presence have enabled South Korea to develop a vibrant democracy and the world’s 12th-largest economy. Together, we celebrate this success.

In past decades South Korea has made major contributions to the alliance. It has modernized its fighter aircraft and enhanced antisubmarine and ballistic-missile defense capabilities. President Moon Jae-in’s government increased South Korea’s defense budget by 8.2% in 2019 and intends to raise it by a further 7.1% annually until 2024. South Korean forces have deployed in support of U.S.-led coalitions in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf. South Korea also intends to procure military equipment that reflects a commitment to force modernization. The U.S. is grateful for these contributions.

But as sovereign allies, we must find a better way to share the costs of defense with South Korea and secure a stable and prosperous future for the Korean people. We are in an age of unprecedented threats that demand robust responses and team efforts. As a global economic powerhouse and an equal partner in the preservation of peace on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea can and should contribute more to its defense.

Today South Korea bears no more than one-third of the costs most directly associated with the stationing of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. As these costs rise, South Korea’s share is shrinking. Moreover, these narrowly defined costs are only one part of the picture. America’s contributions to South Korea’s defense in this highly technological age—including some advanced capabilities Seoul still needs to acquire—far exceed the cost of U.S. “boots on the ground” and constitute a far larger burden for the American taxpayer than meets the eye.

The current special measures agreement captures only a portion of the cost of defending South Korea. The U.S. believes it should cover more. As we improve the burden-sharing arrangement, both sides will benefit. More than 90% of South Korea’s cost-sharing contributions currently go right back into the local economy in the form of salaries for South Korean nationals employed by U.S. Forces Korea, construction contracts, and other services purchased locally to sustain an American presence. It’s good for both nations.

Right now the two countries are again engaged in tough negotiations. The U.S. remains firmly committed to reaching a mutually beneficial and equitable agreement that will strengthen the alliance and combined defense far into the future. South Korea’s taking on a greater share of the load will ensure the alliance remains the linchpin of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia—and across the world.

Mr. Pompeo is secretary of state. Mr. Esper is secretary of defense.

Article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/south-korea-is-an-ally-not-a-dependent-11579219989

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