Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top Brass in ROK Suggests Longer Tours of Duty

“In 55 years, the Republic of Korea has transformed from a war-ravaged country to one of the most modern, progressive and democratic countries in the world," Gen. Burwell B. Bell (Army),who is the commander of U.S. Force in South Korea, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 11March of this year. He went on to say: “Unfortunately, in a modern and vibrant Republic of Korea, the U.S. still rotates service-members on one-year, unaccompanied assignments as though this remained an active combat zone...” Which of course it no longer is. This reassessment of US military deployment has been a long time coming and follows the example of US military bases in Europe. This plan will extend tours to 3 years and allow family members to accompany soldiers to their bases. This plan generally, in my opinion just makes more sense because US service men and women stationed in South Korea may feel more comfortable and therefore be less likely to have conflicts with native Koreans (maybe). As, Gen. Bell goes on to point out that this kind of change sends a message that that US still has a serious commitment to a stable Korean peninsula. It also sends a message that the US does not "expect an imminent conflict" which in the long run may be a positive movement toward peace.
There is some confusion on how much it will cost and who is going to shoulder the responsibility (pay) for this extension and subsequent infrastructure expansion to follow. The Choson Ilbo reports that Gen Bell stated that the Koreans will bear the lion's share for this project. Bell denies this allegation and says that either he was misquoted or perhaps he misspoke.

No comments: