| South Korea has decided to turn the U.S. Army뭩 Second Infantry Division, a core component of the U.S. Forces Korea, into a South Korea-U.S. combined division that would stay in the north of the Han River. The purpose is to better respond to a contingency in North Korea and North Korea뭩 increased nuclear and missile threats. This is the change of the plan to relocate the U.S. Forces in Korea to the south of the Han River agreed under the Roh Moo-hyun administration in 2003. As such, the creation of a combined unit is likely to cause a conflict with affected local governments including Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province.
According to a military source on Monday, the Korean military authorities decided to form a task force to discuss the creation of the new combined unit with the U.S. forces in a Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting presided over by Chairman Choi Yun-hee on Friday.
If the combined division is established, it will become the first South Korea-U.S. combined military unit capable of performing actual combat missions in 22 years since the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Army was disbanded in July 1992. The new combined division is likely to consist of the 210th Field Artillery Brigade including the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and a South Korean artillery and mechanized unit.
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the U.S. Forces Korea command, said in a press conference in Nov. last year that the U.S. is reviewing the option to change the Second Infantry Division into a combined combat troop with a South Korean military unit and have it stay in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province or Uijeongbu. Since then, South Korea and the U.S. have had working-level discussions. The Korean Army is said to have completed an internal review on creating a combined unit.
As a result of the decision, it has become inevitable to adjust the Land Partnership Plan (LLP) to relocate the U.S. Second Infantry Division to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, which is slated to start next year and be completed by 2016. Some say that the Yongsan Relocation Plan (YRP) scheduled in 2016 also needs to be adjusted as the Combined Forces Command in Yongsan is now more likely to stay in Seoul due to the discussion over the creation of the new combined division.