South Korea and the United States will put a landmark combined division in operation next month to bolster combat readiness against North Korean threats, the U.S. military said Thursday.
Last year, the allies agreed to establish the combined wartime division of their troops to enhance a joint defense posture and "tactical-level" combat capabilities to better deter the belligerent North Korea.
The new division will consist of a brigade from the South Korean Army and the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division currently located in Uijeongbu, just north of Seoul, with each entity to carry out normal duties in its assigned area during peacetime.
The head of the 2nd Division will lead the combined division, with a South Korean brigadier general to take the deputy commander position, according to the Defense Ministry officials, adding that dozens of South Korean officers were dispatched to the joint staff office in January to join their U.S. counterparts to be prepared for its full implementation.
The military authorities of the two nations "will host the activation ceremony at Camp Red Cloud (in Uijeongbu) on June 3 ... to officially recognize the successful creation of the Combined Division and to highlight the strength of the ROK-U.S. alliance," the 2nd Division said in a release. ROK is the acronym of South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.
"It will become the first South Korea-U.S. combined military unit capable of carrying out actual combat missions since their Combined Field Army Command was disbanded in July 1992," it added.
The combined unit, meanwhile, will be moved to Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of the capital, Gyeonggi Province, by the end of next year, along with the 2nd Division, in accordance with a U.S. base relocation plan in South Korea.
Seoul and Washington have been working to relocate the Yongsan Garrison, the sprawling U.S. military headquarters in central Seoul, and the 2nd Division north of Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek with a plan to turn the Seoul areas into vast public parks.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. (Yonhap)