The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States have maintained a bilateral alliance for more than 60 years. Born out of the Korean War, the ROK-U.S. Alliance grew stronger, both during and after the Cold War. Today, both nations “go together” to meet the security challenges of Northeast Asia. The ROK-U.S. Alliance is “the greatest alliance in the world, which only gets stronger every day,” according to Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).
Korea is a global leader – economically, diplomatically, and militarily – and its capabilities are increasing. Korea hosted the G20 Seoul Summit in 2010 as the one of the world’s largest economies, yet this was only a small example of Korea’s great leadership. The continuing U.S. relationship with the ROK is vital to both nations. While the ROK-U.S. Alliance is meeting the security challenges it faces today, it is evolving to ensure it can meet any potential challenge in the future. To accommodate the future of the ROK-U.S. Alliance in the ever-changing face of Northeast Asia, USFK will undergo transformation focused on sustainable readiness, capability, and force posture in Korea.
To synchronize all USFK transformation initiatives through 2015, the U.S. secretary of defense and the ROK minister of national defense signed the Strategic Alliance 2015 (SA 2015) in October 2010. SA 2015 is broad and incorporates numerous initiatives for transformation to take place, and it will ensure that the ROK-U.S. Alliance continues to meet the challenges of today and the future. Throughout SA 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District (FED) will provide design and construction services. For the past 54 years, FED has been the U.S. Department of Defense’s design and construction agent in Korea.
As a result of Korea’s transformation program, FED has taken on more responsibilities. Two programs that FED is actively involved in are the Yongsan Relocation Plan (YRP) and the Land Partnership Plan (LPP) that will consolidate U.S. military units into two enduring hubs south of Seoul.
YRP is a bilateral agreement between the ROK and the United States. Signed in 2004, the agreement will consolidate and relocate U.S. forces from the Greater Seoul area. Key to this plan will be the closing and return of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, which sits on prime real estate in central Seoul.
Similar to YRP, LPP is another bilateral agreement signed in 2002 and amended in 2004. LPP will reposition troops of the 2nd Infantry Division stationed north of Seoul to Pyeongtaek and reduce the number of U.S. camps on the Korean Peninsula. This plan will also return valuable land to the ROK government.
Both of these plans benefit the ROK and the United States. They return land to the ROK while better positioning U.S. forces to support future operations. These plans will also improve the quality of life for service members and their families by providing first-class, modern facilities.
U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Humphreys in Pyeongtaek was selected to be an enduring installation under YRP and LPP. Since 2007, construction has been constant in order to turn USAG Humphreys into an installation of choice.
“The amazing pace of construction at USAG Humphreys demonstrates the success of two commitments,” said Col. Don Degidio Jr., commander of FED. “Our first commitment is to the needs of our service members and their families. We have also achieved great collaboration between the United States of America and our allies in the Republic of Korea.”
USAG Humphreys was selected because of its ideal location but required extensive work to support the necessary expansion. The ROK government purchased 2,328 acres of adjacent land to accommodate the new facilities and eventually integrate seamlessly into the existing garrison making it the largest military installation in Korea.
The land adjacent to USAG Humphreys consisted of low-lying rice paddies that were also subject to annual flooding from the adjacent Anseong River. To make it usable and to meet the 100-year flood-event elevation, it needed to be filled with soil to a height of 4 meters (about 13 feet) above the level of the river.
The fill required for the 2,328-acre new land site was estimated to be about 11 million cubic meters of engineered fill. That does not include several million cubic meters that will be rearranged within the site due to cut and fill for detention basins, roads, and other infrastructure requirements. The challenge of turning low-lying, flood-prone land into a modern installation has been FED’s largest endeavor ever and is still ongoing.
The land was sectioned into parcels for development with the United States responsible for 775 acres in Parcel 1 and Parcel 2A. The ROK is responsible for 1,553 acres in Parcel K and Parcel 2B with FED providing full contract management and quality assurance on U.S. projects and construction surveillance on the ROK contracts.