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Relocation of allies' combined command to Pyeongtaek likely to be delayed to autumn: sources

This file photo shows the US military's Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul. (Yonhap)
This file photo shows the US military's Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

The South Korea-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) will likely start relocating to a key US military base south of Seoul this fall, a few months later than expected, with the completion of a related construction work apparently delayed, informed sources said Thursday.

The relocation of the Seoul-based CFC headquarters to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of the capital, had been forecast to begin this summer following the construction of its new building.

But the completion of the construction, initially set for July, appears to have been delayed by a few months to September or October for an unspecified reason, according to the sources.

A Seoul official said later that the exact relocation date has yet to be fixed and will depend on various situations, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

In 2019, Seoul and Washington agreed to move the CFC headquarters to Camp Humphreys, where the US Forces Korea and the UN Command are headquartered, in order to enhance operational efficiency.

During their annual talks in Seoul in December, Defense Minister Suh Wook and his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, agreed to cooperate to complete the CFC relocation by this year.

With the relocation likely to proceed this fall, the allies' summertime training, usually held in August, will likely become their last annual drills using the CFC headquarters in Seoul's central district of Yongsan.

Launched in 1978, the CFC has been the allies' core warfighting headquarters tasked with countering potential North Korean provocations and aggression.

The CFC is led by a four-star US general. But after the conditions-based transfer of wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul, a South Korean general is to lead the combined command with a US general taking a supporting role.

Currently, Gen. Paul LaCamera leads the CFC, the US Forces Korea and the UN Command. (Yonhap)

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