Camp Humphreys Commander Concerned About Government Hiring Freeze

I know a few people that have been impacted by this government hiring freeze.  It will be interesting to see how long it lasts:

Col. Joseph Holland, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, says the federal hiring freeze is having a big impact on military operations in South Korea, despite exemptions.

 The Trump administration’s hiring freeze has left key jobs vacant and could jeopardize readiness at this U.S. base, the commander said Wednesday.

“The hiring freeze that we’re under right now … is having a big impact on us in Korea writ large,” Col. Joseph Holland, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, said in an interview in his office.

President Donald Trump ordered a government-wide hiring freeze on Jan. 23, just three days after taking office. He excluded the military and allowed the Office of Personnel Management to grant exemptions elsewhere.  [Stars & Stripes]

Here is an example of some of the impacts the hiring freeze is having on Camp Humphreys:

For example, the air field, which is active around-the-clock, is relying on an acting manager because officials were unable to push through a final offer to fill the role on a permanent basis before the Feb. 22 cutoff date, Holland said.

“We have a final offer given to a gentleman coming from the United States, but he can’t come here because of the hiring freeze. He fell outside of the window,” he added.

Holland said other vacancies stranded by the hiring freeze included directors for the Army’s substance-abuse program and the community service program, as well as the garrison sexual-assault response coordinator and victim advocate.

You can read more at the link.

Pyeongtaek Bar Owners Complain That USFK Will Not Allow Servicemembers to Patronize Juicy Girls and Prostitutes

I just have little sympathy for these bar owners complaining about the fact that USFK has eaten way at their juicy girl model which at one time brought them huge profits:

An association of bar owners in Pyeongtaek held a press conference at Pyeongtaek City Hall on June 7 to outline their problems. / Yonhap

An association of bar owners in Pyeongtaek held a press conference at Pyeongtaek City Hall on June 7 to outline their problems. / Yonhap

Pyeongtaek has embraced U.S. Army Garrison Camp Humphreys on its soil for many years. And under a relocation plan, more U.S. troops ― the 8th Army headquarters and the 2nd Infantry Division ― will move into the city by 2017, making Pyeongtaek a centerpiece of Seoul-Washington military ties.

All appears to be peaceful and harmonious there. But just beneath the surface of the relationship is growing anger toward the United States Forces Korea (USFK).

While massive construction work for the relocation is under way, the U.S. military in the region has been blamed for prejudicing local business owners’ sovereignty and hurting their livelihoods with what they call “off-limits” action.   (………)

“The current off-limits restrictions clearly infringe on our sovereignty and autonomy,” an official surnamed Park, from the Pyeongtaek branch of the Korea Foreigner Tourist Facility Association (KFTFA), told The Korea Times.

Park said bars have been declared off-limits without warning. The regulation takes effect right after the owners receive a written notice from the U.S. military that briefly explains the reasons for the ban. The owners are not provided with further evidence or details of what provoked the order.

In addition, there is no route to confirm the validity of incidents because “off-limits” are issued based on anecdotal evidence provided by service members or military police of the USFK. This is why bar owners are calling it “absurd.” [Korea Times]

You can read much more about the bar owner complaints at the link, but the argument that their sovereignty is being violated is ridiculous.  They can have all the juicy girls and prostitution they want in their business.  USFK isn’t telling them how to run their business.  However, USFK is under no obligation to allow its servicemembers to patronize such establishments.  Putting businesses off limits to servicemembers is not something that is only done in Korea; in fact in the United States each US military installation has a list of businesses that are off limits to servicemembers as well.

 

Two Apache Helicopters Crash Into Each Other at Camp Humphreys

Hopefully everyone recovers from their injuries with no serious issues:

Two Apache helicopters collided Friday at Camp Humphreys, injuring four U.S. soldiers, a spokesman said.

The AH-64 helicopters were getting ready to take off when the collision occurred at the base south of Seoul, said Lt. Col. Richard Hyde, the 2nd Infantry Division spokesman.

The four soldiers were taken to nearby hospitals with minor injuries, but all have been released, he said Sunday.

The military did not give a cause, saying an investigation is under way. [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: 2-8 Cav Uncases Colors at Camp Humphreys

Hoisting of colors at new military base

Soldiers of the 2-8 Cavalry Regiment affiliated with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division unfurl the unit’s colors at Camp Humphreys in the city of Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on July 18, 2016, as they take part in a ceremony to hoist them following the unit’s relocation from Dongducheon, north of Seoul, in this photo released by the division. The relocation is part of a plan to move U.S. bases north of Seoul to Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers southeast of the capital, by the end of 2017. (Yonhap)

2nd Infantry Division Begins Long Awaited Move To Camp Humphreys

It is finally happening which is amazing considering how many years we have been hearing that this was going to happen.

A view from the roof of the future 2nd Infantry Division headquarters at Camp Humphreys on June 5, 2016. The Army is moving most of its forces, including the headquarters for U.S. Forces Korea, the 8th Army and the 2nd Infantry Division, to the expanded garrison south of Seoul.

 U.S. forces in South Korea are finally starting to move to their new headquarters south of Seoul, although the much-delayed expansion of Camp Humphreys won’t be finished for several years.

First up is the Fort Hood, Texas-based 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, which is packing up and redeploying south this week from the mountainous area near the border with North Korea.

Soldiers loaded Abrams tanks and other armored vehicles on flat rail cars Thursday, taking advantage of a new railhead at Humphreys and using late-night convoys to avoid worsening Seoul’s tangled traffic. One whistled the theme song from “M*A*S*H,” a long-running TV series about the Korean War that was set in the area. A separate train was carrying soldiers to Humphreys along with the vehicles so they could jump out to fight if needed.

Several units, including the 304th Signal Battalion and military police, have already redeployed to Camp Humphreys — which will be spread over more than 3,500 acres near the port city of Pyeongtaek.

But the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, will be the vanguard of the historic move by the 2nd Infantry Division, which has been stationed near the world’s most heavily militarized border for decades.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.  Just think this was supposed to be completed back in 2008.  According to the article USFK officials have declined to give an end date of when the move will be complete and instead call it conditions based.

Korean Employees Continue to Protest USFK Relocation Plans to Camp Humphreys

I feel bad for the Korean employees that may lose their jobs due to the Camp Humphreys relocation, but this has happened before when camps in 2ID between 2005-2005 were closed.  Times change and from what I have heard most of these employees will have the opportunity to still have a job with USFK if they agree to move to Pyeongtaek:

Hundreds of Korean civilians who work on U.S. bases, many for decades, rallied Saturday outside the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan amid rising fears about possible job losses and benefits when most American forces move south.

The demonstration, which began with speeches outside the Korean War Memorial, came as the much-postponed relocation is gaining momentum. The move was originally scheduled to take place in 2008 but was delayed until 2012, then 2016, and most recently 2017.

But the military recently announced the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment will move from Camp Hovey near North Korea to Camp Humphreys in July, making it the first unit to relocate.

The 8th Army also said it is sending an advance team of about 100 people to Humphreys this summer.

With the end date in sight, many Korean nationals fear they may lose their jobs as the U.S. military reorganizes and hires new staff in preparation for the relocation to Humphreys in the port city of Pyongtaek and other regional hubs south of Seoul.

“I think they’re going to cut a lot of employees,” said Yi Kyong Nim, a housing management assistant who has worked at Yongsan for 21 years. Yi said his main concern is that U.S. forces will hire Koreans to staff the housing office at Humphreys and there will be no spots left for him because he will be needed at Yongsan until the last minute.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

2nd Infantry Division Announces Move of First Unit from Camp Casey to Camp Humphreys

It is slowly happening, but it looks like the bulk of 2ID will eventually be on Camp Humphreys after all these years of delays:

2id image

The 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment will move from an area near North Korea this summer, becoming “the vanguard” for a massive relocation of U.S. forces to regional hubs south of Seoul, an Army spokesman said Tuesday.

The announcement is part of a flurry of activity as U.S. Forces Korea readies to finally shift the bulk of its operation to Camp Humphreys in the South Korean port city of Pyongtaek and other areas. The effort has been frequently delayed due to funding and construction problems. The move was originally scheduled to take place in 2008 but was delayed until 2012, then 2016 and most recently, 2017.

The Fort Hood, Texas-based battalion is slated to move from its base at Camp Hovey, which is near the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, to Humphreys in July, said Lt. Col. Richard Hyde, a spokesman for the 2nd Infantry Division.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: New USFK Headquarters on Camp Humphreys

New USFK headquarters

The pool photo released on Dec. 13, 2015, shows the new headquarters of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) being built in Pyeongtaek, southeast of Seoul. USFK is moving its troops in Seoul and its vicinity to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, and officials said the relocation will be delayed to 2017 from 2016. Some 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War ended only in a truce instead of a peace treaty. (Yonhap)

USFK Relocation to Camp Humphreys Delayed One Year Due to Scandal

The Camp Humphreys relocation is expected to take another year to complete due to a scandal that sent the construction company into bankruptcy and its Korean owner committing suicide:

Camp Humphreys Garrison in Pyongtaek, Gyeonggi Province was opened to the press on Dec. 10, showing the ongoing construction.

The relocation of US forces in South Korea (USFK) to the new base in Pyeongtaek is expected to be completed in 2017, one year later than originally planned.The announcement was made by Kim Kie-soo, director of the office for USFK relocation at South Korea‘s Defense Ministry, and Lt. Gen. Bernard Champoux, commander of the US’s Eighth Army. The two officials spoke to reporters on Dec. 10 at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, which is currently under construction.“As of the end of November, progress on construction of the Pyeongtaek base stood at 86 percent, and most of this will be completed next year.

The relocation of the US army base will begin next year and will for the most part be completed by 2017,” Kim told reporters.This means that the move will take place a year later than promised in the government’s original plan, which had been to finish the move by next year.When asked about the reasons for the delay, Kim mentioned the bankruptcy of Keangnam Enterprises. “With Keangnam Enterprises entering receivership and the former chairman Sung Wan-jong committing suicide [due to scandal], a number of construction projects were halted, and we had to go through a new round of bidding,” Kim said.  [Hankyoreh]

You can read more at the link.

Three Camp Humphreys Workers Die from Suicide Related Incidents

I feel bad for the guy that died trying to stop one of these suicides from happening, but I do think there was probably more going on with these two that killed themselves considering the corruption probe that is happening:

Failure to meet deadlines and pay contractors on time may have contributed to the deaths this past spring of three South Koreans working on the U.S. Army’s massive expansion of Camp Humphreys, according to local police.

Two South Korean workers committed suicide in separate incidents in May, while a third man died from injuries after trying to intervene in one of the deaths.

The head of a subcontracting company set himself on fire May 8 at a Humphreys work site and died at a hospital 10 days later. The man, surnamed Han, claimed to be nearly $1.8 million in debt, police said. Media reports said that Han may not have been paid by the contracting company that hired his firm and may have been unable to pay his company’s taxes.

Another man who tried to save, Han died May 22, police said.

The third man, an employee of Samsung C&T Corp. surnamed Kim, hanged himself May 7 in an off-post dormitory for Samsung employees, a Pyeongtaek police official said.

Kim had been overseeing the base hospital’s construction but failed to meet building deadlines and was demoted to head of construction for the dental clinic, the officer said. Kim killed himself because he was upset over the demotion, police said.

Suicide in South Korea is the fourth-leading cause of death overall, after cancer, stroke and heart disease, according to the World Health Organization.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.