US Soldier Accused of Raping a Korean Woman in Busan

Considering that the suspect is an ethnic Korean it will be interesting to see if the Korean media tries to keep a low key approach to this case or not:

An American soldier of Korean ethnicity has been charged with raping a Korean woman at a Busan guesthouse.

Busan Jungbu police have charged the man, 21, with raping the woman, 24.

The soldier, from a U.S. Forces Korea camp in Gyeonggi Province, made the woman’s acquaintance through an online dating app.

On Feb. 18, he met her in person in Busan while on a brief vacation. At about 4:30 a.m., after they had been drinking, the soldier took her to a guesthouse, where he allegedly raped her.

Police said the man had denied the charge.

The police plan to refer the case to U.S. military police, who will deal with it according to the Status of Forces Agreement between Seoul and Washington.  [Korea Times]

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.

Report Says Secretary Mattis to Keep General Brooks as USFK Commander

In this Yonhap article about Secretary Mattis’ recent visit to South Korea, there is blurb that states that General Vincent Brooks is likely to stay on as USFK commander:

Another military source said that during the visit, Mattis also expressed his confidence in the U.S. Forces Korea commander, Gen. Vincent Brooks, who was named under the Obama administration and is likely to continue in his current position after the recent administration change in the U.S.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I hope General Brooks stays on since I believe he has done a great job as the USFK commander.  However, my concern is that President Trump is known for holding grudges and General Brooks did testify to Congress with information contrary to what President Trump claimed during his campaign.

ROK JCS To Lead Key Resolve 2017 Military Exercise

This year’s Key Resolve exercise will have a little twist with the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff leading it:

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff will lead a combined military exercise with the U.S. from a new command center in March amid growing threats from North Korea, military officials said Monday.

“During the upcoming Key Resolve exercise, Seoul’s JCS will be responsible for exercise planning and control, operation of opposing forces, and after-drill meetings,” an official at the defense ministry said.

The exercise’s command center will be set up in an underground bunker of South Korea’s Capital Defense Command, as the JCS will lead the annual exercise with the U.S. staff playing a supporting role, according to the ministry.

When the U.S. side led the exercise, the command center used to be set up at the bunker of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

The JCS led the Key Resolve drills in 2013 as South Korea was scheduled to regain wartime operational control (OPCON) from Washington in 2015. But the OPCON transfer was pushed back amid Pyongyang’s provocations. Seoul and Washington agreed on the “conditions-based” transfer, which observers say could come in mid-2020s.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

President Trump Confirms Defense Commitment to South Korea

It appears everything went well with the phone call between President Trump and acting ROK President Hwang:

President Donald Trump reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to the alliance with South Korea during a phone call Monday with the country’s acting president.

The leaders also agreed to strengthen joint defense capabilities as they face a growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea, the White House said in a statement.

The call — the first time Trump and acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn have spoken — offered much-sought reassurance to South Koreans nervous that the new U.S. administration might change longstanding policies toward the divided peninsula.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

2nd Infantry Division Soldiers Indicted By Korean Authorities for Smuggling Meth

Obviously these two knuckleheads are not readers of the ROK Drop because if they were they would know that smuggling drugs through the US military mail is now an easy way to get yourself arrested:

Two 2nd Infantry Division soldiers have been indicted in connection with a $10 million methamphetamine smuggling case involving the U.S. military postal service, officials said Wednesday.

The shipment of nearly eight pounds of meth — in three packages with labels saying they contained candy — was discovered in late October by the customs service at the Incheon airport near Seoul.

Authorities then monitored the shipment and detained the soldiers, both 19, for questioning days later when they moved to collect it.

The men were indicted Tuesday on charges of violating the narcotics control act.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but these two were getting paid $3,000 and $1,000 for agreeing to have the drugs mailed to them on behalf of a Korean-American in Uijongbu who denying all the charges.

Apache Helicopters Coming to Korea to Replace Retired Kiowas

The deployment of the Apache helicopters is supposed to be complete by October this year:

U.S. Forces Korea will deploy 24 Apache helicopters to South Korea as the allied forces face a growing threat from the North.

But the battalion will be temporarily split between two bases because a new parking apron hasn’t been completed, the military said Monday.

The scheduled rotational deployment of the AH-64D attack helicopters next month will replace 30 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, which are being retired.

Sixteen of the Apaches will be temporarily stationed at Suwon Air Base until a new parking apron is completed at Camp Humphreys, which will eventually house the bulk of U.S. forces as part of a long-delayed relocation from Seoul and bases to the north. The other eight will be at Camp Humphreys, according to the USFK public affairs office.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Report Claims US Special Ops Unit to Help Kill Kim Jong-un In A Crisis

Take it for what is worth, but unidentified sources are saying that US Special Operations Forces would participate in an operation to kill Kim Jong-un in case of conflict:

The South Korean Army is engaged in a special infiltration exercise in the East Sea on Aug. 6, 2016. (Yonhap)

– U.S. special operation forces are expected to participate in a South Korean-led operation to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the event of war, according to military sources Sunday.

“The South Korean military will form a special brigade based on that of the U.S. sometime later this year,” said a high-ranking government official on the condition of anonymity, adding that U.S. special agents are expected to be under Korean command during the operation.

“Although the brigade is modeled after that in the U.S., it will be tailored to the special environments of the peninsula,” he said.

The 1,000-2,000-strong unit is tasked with eliminating Pyongyang’s wartime command, including Kim Jong-un, and paralyzing its functions.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

ROK Presidential Candidate Wants South Korea to Pay Less for US Defense Costs

Where does this guy get his information from?

Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)

Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, one of the leading presidential hopefuls for the opposition bloc, said Tuesday that South Korea should pay less of the defense-cost sharing with the United States, clashing with calls by President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to get Washington’s allies to contribute more.

“South Korea’s defense-sharing cost should be on par with that of Japan,” Lee said during an interview with CBS Radio.

“Germany and Japan pay 18 percent and 50 percent, respectively, while South Korea shares stand at 77 percent,” he claimed.

Lee said the U.S. military presence in the country reflects Washington’s own interests and not that of South Korea. The mayor added the U.S. will suffer a great loss if it pulls its military out of South Korea.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but Japan pays 74.5% of US defense costs, not 50%, while South Korea pays about 50%. Mayor Lee is either blatantly lying for votes or is completely uninformed.  Either way it does not reflect positively on him.  I wonder if Mayor Lee wants to return to the old days when the Korean government paid the North Koreans more money to fund their nuclear and weapons program than what they spent funding the US-ROK alliance?

UPDATE:

From the Korea Times comes further information on how Mayor Lee came up with his 77% number:

Korea and the United States hold negotiations on cost-sharing for the upkeep of 28,000 American troops every five years under the Special Measures Agreement (SMA). Seoul pays about half the cost — 944.1 billion won ($782 million) and 932 billion won in 2016 and 2015, respectively. The last SMA was made in 2014 and the next negotiations for 2019 through 2023 are likely to begin later this year, according to the foreign ministry.

However, Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, a liberal presidential hopeful, claimed Tuesday that South Korea is actually paying more than Japan and Germany, both of which have a U.S. forces presence.

According to him, Germany and Japan pay 18 percent and 50 percent of the total costs, respectively, while South Korea share stands at 77 percent.

His calculation includes indirect costs such as providing land for bases and firing ranges for free along with an exemption from taxation and benefits such as cheaper electricity and telephone charges — things not included in the SMA negotiations.

In addition, civic groups also insist that the SMA should include the nation’s support such as providing police to guard bases and troops under the Korean Augmentation to the United State Army (KATUSA) program. [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but if Mayor Lee wants to play the game of including costs not in the cost sharing agreement than the US side can play that game to.  So how much does the use of the US military’s stealth bombers and B-52’s cost?  Better yet what about the cost of using the US space based satellites and sensors in support of South Korea?  What is the cost of all the US troops that would come to the peninsula in case of a crisis?  I could go on and on with costs the US military can add to the cost sharing agreement that right now the ROK is not paying for.

The next cost sharing negotiations to begin this year could end up being really interesting if a committed left wing candidate like Mayor Lee is elected and insists on South Korea paying less.

DMZ Flashpoints: The 1967 Work Detail Ambush

Prelude

Between 1966-1970 soldiers stationed on the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) came in regular contact with North Korean infiltrators probing US military defenses in what became known as the “DMZ War”.  Two examples of such incidents occurred the morning of August 10th, 1967 when North Korean infiltrators conducted two separate ambushes of 2nd and 7th Infantry Division soldiers:

The events that morning began when a 2nd Infantry Division military working dog by the name of “Blackie”, handled by Specialist Jack L. Tyrrell, were leading a squad sized patrol in the early morning hours.  The patrol was sent out at dusk after a sentry during the night had heard a possible North Korean infiltrator near his post.  As the patrol looked for the infiltrator Blackie smelled something suspicious and headed for a nearby tree.  That is when a North Korean infiltrator sprung out from behind the tree and shot Blackie and SPC Tyrrell.

Ambush Prevented

After the initial firing more concealed North Koreans opened fire on the American patrol.  However, the warning provided by Blackie had given the other members of the US patrol time to take cover.  This allowed the Americans the opportunity to immediately return fire at the ambushers.  The North Koreans realizing that their ambush had been compromised withdrew back towards the DMZ.  The ambush cost Blackie his life, but no other Americans were killed with SPC Tyrrell being the only person wounded.

Work Detail Ambush

However, the ambush that Blackie had prematurely triggered was not the only ambush the North Koreans had planned that morning.  US 7th Infantry Division soldiers from B company 2-31 Infantry Regiment had conducted a woodcutting mission inside the South Korean side of the DMZ that morning before returning to their camp for lunch around 11:45 AM.  The soldiers moved south in a two truck convoy up a small hill in a drizzling rain.  Each truck carried a platoon of US soldiers in the back of it.  As the convoy approached the crest of the hill approximately 3-4 North Koreans appeared on the side of the lead truck and lobbed grenades at it.  One of the grenades landed on the hood of the truck and killed the Platoon Sergeant Philip Boudreaux.

After the initial grenade attack more North Koreans opened up on the lead truck with small arms fire.  In the ensuing ambush two more US soldiers, PFC Donald Craplicki and PFC Jerry Skaggs would be killed.  The fatalities could have been much worse if it wasn’t for the actions of Specialist David Richardson who stood up on the back of the truck and returned fire at the ambushers while the other soldiers jumped out over the side of the truck and into an adjacent ditch to take cover.  SPC Richardson was wounded by grenade fragments and shot twice, but incredibly continued to return fire.  The return of fire from Richardson allowed platoon leader 2nd Lieutenant David Colwell who rode in the second truck to organize a response to the ambush.

While soldiers in the second truck took cover Colwell crawled up the hill to the first truck to check on the status of the soldiers. After helping to get wounded soldiers in the ambush zone out of the truck and administering first aid he ran back down the hill to order a soldier to run to a nearby outpost to request reinforcements.  Other soldiers in the second truck then pushed forward to return fire at the ambushers.  The firefight lasted about 30 minutes before the North Koreans withdrew back across the DMZ.  No North Korean bodies were found, but US soldiers reported seeing some of the ambushers shot and blood was later found at the scene.

The aftermath from the ambush left the US with 3 soldiers killed in action, 16 more wounded and one ROK Army Korean Augmentee to the US Army (KATUSA) also wounded.   2LT Colwell would later go on to be recognized with a Bronze Star for his actions that morning.  I could find no record of Specialist Richardson being awarded any valor medals, but it seems like he would have been a great candidate as well.

November 25, 1967 edition of the Stars & Stripes newspaper announcing the Bronze Star awarded to 2nd Lieutenant David Colwell.

Ambush Aftermath

A few days after the ambush the United Nations Command officially protested the aggression during the 253rd meeting of the military armistice commission.  During the meeting the UNC spokesman Major General Marvin Demler blasted the North Korean delegation for the deadly attacks.  North Korean spokesman Major General Chung Kuk-pak had the audacity to claim that if any UN soldiers had been killed it was because they shot each other by mistake.  Later in the meeting Maj. Gen. Demler responded to the North Korean subterfuge by saying, “My colleagues and I agree that the proper assessment of this situation is that every ass likes to hear himself bray.”  Demler continued to say that the UNC would “hunt down and kill or capture all North Korean communist intruders.”  Despite Demler’s tough talking the North Koreans would go on two weeks later to launch an even more deadly ambush on Camp Liberty Bell that left 4 soldiers dead and 26 wounded to further escalate the growing DMZ War.

August 18, 1967 edition of the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper.

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