Navy breaking ground on new Korean HQ as part of consolidation

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In this file photo, the USS George Washington pulls away from Busan in South Korea in July 2010 on its way to participate in the Invincible Spirit joint military exercise carried out for four days by the U.S. and South Korea. The George Washington operates out of Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. (Photo by Jon Rabiroff/Stars and Stripes)
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In this file photo, the USS George Washington pulls away from Busan in South Korea in July 2010 on its way to participate in the Invincible Spirit joint military exercise carried out for four days by the U.S. and South Korea. The George Washington operates out of Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. (Photo by Jon Rabiroff/Stars and Stripes)

Navy breaking ground on new Korean HQ as part of consolidation

by: Jon Rabiroff | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: August 28, 2013

SEOUL — U.S. Naval Forces Korea is breaking ground this week for a new headquarters facility on a South Korean naval base in the southern port city of Busan.

“The planned move will place naval leaders and headquarters staffs from the U.S. and Republic of Korea in the same location, which will allow closer coordination and enhanced interoperability between the two navies,” a Navy statement said.

Moving personnel and equipment from the current headquarters in Seoul will occur in phases, “balancing costs and efficiencies with mission requirements,” and is scheduled to be completed by 2015, the statement said.

Approximately 85 of the more than 450 Navy personnel in South Korea are assigned to the headquarters.

The relocation is part of the effort to move virtually all U.S. servicemembers stationed in and north of Seoul to regional hub bases hubs in the areas around Pyeongtaek/Osan and Daegu by 2016.

Some 28,500 U.S. troops currently are stationed on more than 100 bases stretching from the Demilitarized Zone in the north to Busan in the south. Plans call for consolidating forces into fewer than 50 bases, with the vacated facilities to be turned over to South Korea.

The massive move was initially scheduled to happen in 2008, but the target date was moved to 2012, and eventually to 2016, prompting skepticism whether the 2016 target will be met. USFK commander Gen. James Thurman said earlier that the move was essentially still on schedule.

“We are moving out of this place, alright?” he told a community meeting at Yongsan in Seoul. While elements of the move from Seoul and areas near the DMZ could run into delays, the commander said, “In 2016, we’re going to be pretty much down there.”

rabiroff.jon@stripes.com

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