President Trump Enjoys “Taco Tuesday” with Troops At Camp Humphreys

This had to have been a pretty neat experience for the soldiers that attended this lunch with President Trump:

U.S. troops who had lunch with President Donald Trump on Tuesday at a military base in South Korea say he told them there was no place he’d rather be.

Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in joined 108 hand-picked servicemembers, including 20 South Koreans, for Taco Tuesday at a Camp Humphreys dining facility.

Pvt. Merion Holmes, 21, of Georgetown, S.C., said he was honored to see the president in person and found Trump’s words motivating.

“He said he’d rather eat with the troops than at a fancy restaurant,” Holmes told Stars and Stripes after the president’s 20-minute appearance. “It made me feel like he cared.”

Trump flew to Humphreys in a helicopter shortly after landing at Osan Air Base on Tuesday to begin his visit to South Korea, the second leg of his first official visit to Asia.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but of significance is that ROK President Moon Jae-in made a surprise visit to Camp Humphreys as well to have lunch with President Trump.  This is reportedly the first time a ROK President has greeted a visiting foreign leader outside of Cheongwadae.

President Trump to Make Visit to Camp Humphreys During Trip to South Korea

Via a reader tip comes this news that President Trump’s first stop in South Korea will be to Camp Humphreys:

Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek.

U.S. President Donald Trump will visit Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, as the first destination during his visit to South Korea from Nov. 7 to 8, officials said Tuesday.

It will be the first visit of a U.S. president to the headquarters of the Eighth U.S. Army which relocated there in July.

The Eighth Army moved to the post after more than 60 years at Yongsan, central Seoul, as part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s relocation project for U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) following more than a decade of planning since 2003.

Camp Humphreys is the largest U.S. Army Garrison overseas. It occupies 14.68 square kilometers of land ― three times the size of the Yongsan garrison ― with 513 buildings including schools, shops and banks as well as other facilities such as gyms, theaters and a water park for USFK personnel and their families.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but I wonder if 8th Army senior leaders will mention all the anti-US protestsfraud, corruption, delays, and the fact units are moving into incomplete buildings that occurred to get this expansion project complete?  No probably not, but it would be great to see President Trump’s reaction to if he saw pictures like this from a past protest to stop the expansion project:

USFK Announces It Will Begin Moving Units Into Buildings At Camp Humphreys Even If They Are Not Complete

Considering the expansion of Camp Humphreys has been going on for over a decade it would seem surprising that these buildings are not ready yet, but considering all the corruption going on it seems no one is surprised:

Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek.

Camp Humphreys may accept buildings with minor flaws as planners face a new urgency to complete the long-delayed expansion of the Army garrison and future home of U.S. Forces Korea, the commander says.

Col. Scott Mueller, who assumed command of the garrison in June, stressed that no compromises will be made on “life, health or safety.” But he said cosmetic concerns and less serious problems may be fixed later as long as the facility is ready for use.

“Circumstances have changed now, where in the past they were just construction projects. There were delays that really wouldn’t have operational impact,” he told Stars and Stripes during an interview at his office on Tuesday. “But now we’re looking at it as, ‘Hey we’re moving. Let’s get these buildings done.’”

The relocation effort is gaining momentum amid a growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea. Mueller said his No. 1 priority is military readiness and base defense, followed by family needs and customer service.  [Stars & Stripes via a reader tip]

You can read more at the link.

American Charged with Receiving $2.8 Million In Bribes from Korean Company for Contracts

More corruption charges related to the Camp Humphreys relocation project:

Picture of construction during the Camp Humphreys expansion project.

A 58-year-old Pearl City man is in custody at the Federal Detention Center on charges that he accepted and hid more than $2.8 million in bribes that he solicited to steer more than $400 million worth of engineering and construction work to a particular South Korean-based multinational company when he worked as a contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment Thursday charging Duane Nishiie and South Korean national Seung-Ju Lee, 50, with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, money laundering and lying in connection with the awarding of two contracts that are part of a massive, ongoing U.S. Army relocation project in South Korea.

Nishiie pleaded not guilty Friday. Lee has yet to answer to the charges.  (…….)

According to the indictment, Nishiie and Lee steered a December 2008 infrastructure and engineering contract worth more than $400 million to a particular company and a March 2010 construction contract worth more than $6 million to the same company in exchange for bribes. Lee was an officer in the procurement arm of the Korean Ministry of Defense, which is working with the U.S. government on the Army relocation project.  [Honolulu Star Advertiser]

You can read more at the link.

8th Army Commander Calls Camp Humphreys Expansion 80% Complete

Here is an update on the Camp Humphreys expansion project:

Originally a small fighter base during the Korean War, Camp Humphreys has transformed into the peninsula’s largest military installation.

Aerial snapshots taken Wednesday show a transformation 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal calls 80 percent done.

Barracks and training ranges can be seen sprawling along the banks of Anseong River to the north as family housing and schools cut into vast rice paddies to the south.

Four-lane boulevards bisect block after block of new buildings. The base looks more like the massive U.S. installations of Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas than it does the old Korean War-era camps filled with Quonset huts north of the Han River.

However, the images also show sore spots for the $10.7 billion project aimed to fulfill a 2004 agreement between Seoul and Washington to move the bulk of U.S. forces 40 miles south of Seoul.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.

 

Missing Teenager of USFK Servicemember Found In Seoul

Here is some good news that this missing American teenager was found safe in Seoul:

A U.S. soldier’s teenage daughter was found safe in Seoul and was reunited with her family Thursday, two weeks after she vanished from Camp Humphreys, a spokesman said.

Fatima Andrea Wdave, 17, was reported missing after she failed to report to her summer job at a sushi restaurant outside the Army garrison, about 35 miles south of the South Korean capital.

The U.S. military put out an all-points bulletin saying she was last seen outside her on-post quarters at about 10:30 p.m. Aug. 10.

U.S. military police picked her up in Seoul after she was located on Thursday and took her back to her family on Humphreys.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.

Defense Analyst Claims that Camp Humphreys Can Be Destroyed By North Korean Rockets

Really nothing surprising here, North Korea has long been able to target Camp Humphreys with ballistic missiles, rockets just give them another way to attack the base:

Camp Humphreys

The new U.S. Pyeongtaek Garrison is vulnerable to North Korea’s rocket and missile attacks possibly topped with chemical and biological warheads, a noted American defense analyst told The Korea Times Friday.

“The new North Korean 300mm rocket launchers would be able to reach Pyeongtaek,” said Bruce Bennett, a senior defense researcher at the Rand Corp.

It was a contingency that the U.S. failed to anticipate in the early 2000s when the integrated U.S. base was planned, the Korea expert added. Pyeongtaek is located 100 kilometers from the southernmost area of the North Korean side on the inter-Korean border and is outside the range of the North’s 7,000 artillery pieces located there.

But the latest 300mm rocket launchers can cover the distance and hit the U.S. base and what is also worrisome is they are reloadable, he said.

The North’s theater ballistic missiles also pose a threat to the base where key elements of the U.S. forces here are being moved to. “The North has 100 launchers for these missiles,” he said, citing a ROK military whitepaper. “We have significant uncertainties with regard to their number and payloads.” The North is said to possess large quantities of chemical and biological weapons that are deliverable by their projectiles.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: 8th Army Relocates to Camp Humphreys

Relocation of 8th Army's headquarters to Pyeongtaek

Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commander of the Eighth U.S. Army in South Korea, and other participants salute the statue of Gen. Walton Walker, the first Eighth Army commanding general during the Korean War, as they attend a ceremony at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on July 11, 2017, to mark the relocation of the Eighth Army’s headquarters to the camp from Seoul’s Yongsan Garrison. (Yonhap)

North Korea Welcomes Eighth Army Headquarters to Camp Humphreys By Threatening to Destroy It

It seems to me that the North Korean spokesman unintentionally took a swipe at North Korean targeting capabilities by saying their systems perform better against bigger targets:

Camp Humphreys

North Korea warned Friday that U.S. forces stationed in South Korea are within striking range even if a key unit has moved to a new base located south of Seoul.

The U.S. 8th Army on Tuesday opened its new headquarters at the Camp Humphreys garrison in Pyeongtaek, a port city some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, after a decade of delay in the base relocation. It marked the end of the army’s 64-year presence at the Yongsan base in central Seoul.

North Korea’s military stationed at the truce village of Panmunjom said that regardless of the location, they cannot avoid North Korea’s ruthless firing.

“The larger the U.S. military base is, the more effectively our military hits targets,” a military spokesman was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).  (…….)

“If (the leadership) issues an order, our military will destroy the U.S. imperialists with salvos of firings,” the spokesman said. “If the U.S. sticks to reckless military confrontation despite our warning, it cannot avoid a miserable end.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: The Highest Ranking US Army Dentist Visits Camp Humphreys

U.S. Army dental chief visits S. Korea

Maj. Gen. Thomas Tempel, chief of the U.S. Army Dental Corps, speaks during a ceremony at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on May 30, 2017, to open Camp Humphreys Dental Clinic, a dental clinic of the 65th Medical Brigade. The dental clinic is the largest U.S. Army dental clinic in the Asia-Pafific region with 79 state-of-the-art chairs, it said. (Yonhap)