US Army to replace permanent brigade in S. Korea with rotational unit

November 6, 2014
(Yonhap)

The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, which has helped defend South Korea from North Korean threats since 1965, will be decommissioned. (Yonhap)

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) — A U.S. Army brigade stationed in South Korea for nearly half a century will be deactivated and replaced by a rotational unit next year as part of efforts to increase efficiency and unit cohesion, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, which has helped defend South Korea from North Korean threats since 1965, will be decommissioned and replaced by troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, in June 2015, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the deactivation, he said.

“Headquartered in South Korea since July 1965, 1st Armored Brigade has played an integral role in the defense of the Korean peninsula. The unit trained and worked alongside its South Korean partners to deter aggression,” Warren said.

“The deactivation is part of the U.S. Army’s rotational plans that call for similarly sized and capable units from the United States on nine-month rotations to replace this brigade,” he said.

Officials said that the rotation plan will increase efficiency and cohesion among members of the unit because the entire brigade will be trained, deployed and leave at the same time. So far, members of the brigade have been rotated on an individual basis, making them work with different people.

Warren said that the move is part of the U.S. Army’s rotational brigade plan that was originally conceived in 2013. The Pentagon has been working with the government of South Korea to finalize the plan and put it into effect, he said.

“This is important and I think this will be born out. By doing this, what we end up sending to Korea is a trained, ready and equipped brigade combat team that will spend nine months on the peninsula providing security and stability,” he said.

“There is no loss in capability,” he said.

There will also be no problem with continuity because the replacing brigade will receive familiarization training, Warren said. The move is in no way a precursor to a reduction of U.S. troops in Korea, the spokesman said.

About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the divided peninsula still technically at war.

 

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