US military launches new $11 billion South Korea base, expected to house over 45,000 service members, contractors and their dependents

July 30, 2017 4:51 am

US soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, salute during a transfer of authority ceremony in June at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul. (Photo by AFP)

The US has inaugurated an $11 billion base in South , boasting it as an small American city serving as new headquarters that no longer lies within the range of North Korean artillery fire, and expected to house over 45,000 service members, contractors and their dependents.
“We built an entire city from scratch,” said Colonel Scott W. Mueller, garrison commander of Camp Humphreys, as quoted in a Washington Post article on Saturday, pointing out that the new 3,454-acre base represented “one of the US military’s largest overseas construction projects.”
The base also holds four schools, five churches, a range of fast-food chain restaurants, a grocery store and a golf course.
The US military has been trying for 30 years to move its headquarters in out of the capital Seoul, and out of North Korea’s artillery range, but political and funding issues had slowed the process.
It is now located in the countryside, “in an area that was famous for growing huge grapes.”
Since the end of World War II, the US military has been based at Yongsan, a garrison that had been the Imperial Japanese Army’s main base during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula. It remains in the middle of Seoul and just 40 miles from the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.
The Eighth US Army moved its headquarters to the new base this month and there are nearly 25,000 people based in the headquarters, including family members and contractors.
Mueller added that the new military base “is not just bigger; it’s much more modern than the garrison at Yongsan.” It has state-of-the-art communications technology and is a more “hardened” site to protect against a possible North Korean attack.
“Down here we’re a little bit further from the action, and that helps buy us some strategic decision space should anything happen,” said the US commander. “We’ve been able to create the facilities needed to keep up with the pace of modern warfare and modern communications technology.”
However, Pyongyang has mocked the notion that the new base will fall out of its fire range.
“The larger the US military base is, the more effectively our military can hit its targets,” a North Korean military spokesman said this month after the American Eighth Army moved to the new site.
Meanwhile. some South Koreans remain concerned about growing crime as the result of the American military presence and that US soldiers “will be on the prowl for local women.”
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