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CFC will move into Korean JCS site: Brooks

Jan 06,2018
Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), confirmed that the headquarters of the U.S.-Korea Combined Forces Command (CFC) will move into the compound of Korea’s Ministry of National Defense in Yongsan District, central Seoul.

“The Combined Forces [Command] headquarters will stay in the Seoul metropolitan area, moving closer and closer to the Ministry of National Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the Republic of Korea in the same compound,” Gen. Brooks said in a lecture on Thursday at Seoul Cyber University. “And that becomes our concentrated focus of the alliance military capacity and power.”

The Korean Defense Ministry confirmed that it is discussing with the U.S. military the details to moving the CFC headquarters out of its current location in Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul. The CFC has been located in the garrison since its establishment in 1978.

Counting all the years since the Yongsan Garrison was initially founded in 1906 following the Japanese invasion, the garrison has been off limits to the public for 111 years.

That is about to change with the plan to transform the base into a public park, though the plan has dragged on for years. Seoul and Washington agreed to relocate the Yongsan base to Pyeongtaek in 2003 under presidents Roh Moo-hyun and George W. Bush.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport created the Special Act on the Creation of Yongsan Park in 2008 but the process of relocation of the CFC and U.S. military from the garrison was delayed due to repeated missile and nuclear provocations from North Korea.

The Seoul city government on Friday welcomed the news of the relocation of the CFC headquarters.

“We welcome the confirmation of the relocation, as it is good news for the Yongsan Park plan,” said an official of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “We will receive feedback from the citizens and cooperate with the Defense Ministry, Land Ministry and the USFK to come up with a detailed plan for the park.”

The CFC takes up some 240,000 square meters (24 hectares), or 10 percent of the 2.42 million square meter space in the garrison used by the U.S. military.

The Eighth U.S. Army moved from the garrison to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, last July, as part of an ongoing plan to integrate and move all bases of the USFK into Pyeongtaek.

President Moon Jae-in in an election pledge said he would transform the Yongsan Garrison into a park in the center of Seoul, like New York’s Central Park.

But the question of what to do with remaining U.S. military facilities remains.

BY KIM MIN-SANG, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]