Eighth Army Conducts Transformation Town Hall
Yongsan - Over the next few years, more than 29,000 U.S Forces Korea personnel and their family members are scheduled to relocate to Camp Humphreys. In preparation for the relocation, Eighth Army hosts monthly Transformation Town Hall meetings. During a recent town hall held here, Oct. 27, members of the military community in South Korea had another opportunity to hear about ongoing transformation and upcoming relocation to Camp Humphreys.
The town halls address the concerns of those who might be affected by the largest peacetime relocation program in Department of Defense history.
Eighth Army Chief of Staff Col. William Taylor stressed the importance of communication with the USFK community as the move starts to transition from planning phase to execution phase.
"The project should be transparent," Taylor said. "One thing that's very important for us is we put out as much information as we can on all of the developments that are happening for our move so that you can make good decisions for you, your family and management."
Taylor also said the command paid close attention to the concerns of all personnel.
"I want you to feel very connected and informed by the command," Taylor said. "Although this relocation is one of the largest builds and moves in the entire U.S Army, we want everybody to feel that we are taking care of every individual within the command. The panel was selected specifically based on a lot of questions that the management is getting about what is available and how the move will take place."
Eighth Army Future Operations Chief, Col. George Shatzer, asked for the community's understanding about possible changes to the relocation schedule.
"This is a very complicated project, and there are a number of factors that can impact the schedule and the execution," Shatzer said. "With nearly 100 separate active projects ongoing right now, you can imagine that there are frequently many issues we run into."
Following Shatzer's remarks, the deputy commander of U.S Army Garrison Humphreys, Patrick Mackenzie spoke to the crowd about the growth of the garrison, population increases and funding for the relocation.
According to Mackenzie, Korean partners invested 10.7 billion dollars into the project, which is approximately 90% of the cost of the transformation effort at Camp Humphreys. Included in the transformation are 655 new buildings, a size increase from 1,041 acres to 3,453 acres and population growth from 11,000 to 42,000 by the time the project is completed.
Mackenzie went on to discuss the increased transportation network that is being constructed to facilitate the growth of Camp Humphreys and Pyeongtaek.
"Korail (the national railroad operator) just tested the line and actually ran a train from the Jije station, right outside of Pyeongtaek, to Seoul and it took only 18 minutes to get there from here," Mackenzie said. "In addition to the Korea Train Express, we've also got a new highway bridge right outside our back gate which will connect Camp Humphreys to highway 17. That connection reduces the amount of drive time from Seoul to Pyeongtaek or vice versa by about 45 minutes."
Choe Song-won, from the Department of Human Resources Management and the head office for any human resources matters regarding Korean national employees, explained relocation procedures and employment issues for members of Korean civilian workforce.
"Regulation 690-1 is still valid for any plans regarding transformation," Choe said. "If you are from Area I, you will be eligible for all the procedures that are stipulated in regulation 690-1. For those employees working in Yongsan who have received their relocation notification, you should go to your servicing civilian personnel advisory center with your permanent change of station order and visit a regional post office to confirm answers about your move.
According to Choe, employees should be notified of a relocation at least 90 days before, and once notified, employees have to decide whether to keep or leave their positions within 7 days.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Taylor reminded civilian workers that every one of them was vital to the command.
"What I really want everybody to realize is that we are on the same team and that we take care of you just like we take care of our Soldiers and their families because you are part of what makes us successful," Taylor said. "So know that the command and management's commitment is to ensure that we do the right things on every aspect to make this move successful for you and your families."
The next town hall meeting is scheduled to take place at USAG Yongsan's theater, Nov. 17. For more information on the relocation, visit the Eighth Army Transformation and Relocation website at http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/transformation/.