Taegu (Daegu) Air Base
35° 54'N, 128° 39'E
Taegu Air Base (also spelled Daegu, and also referred to as K-2), at an elevation of 115 feet (35 meters) is located within a river valley between 2 major mountain chains. Other major cities located around Taegu are Yongchon 15 miles (28 km) to the east-northeast, Kumi 17 miles (32 km) to the northwest, and Kyong Gu 27 miles (50 km) to the east. Hills and mountains cover about 75 percent of the Korean peninsula, with the remainder covered by scattered lowlands. Most of the rivers are short, swift, and shallow due to topography, narrowness, and sand deposits within the river. The Taebaik Mountain range is a north-south oriented range located to the east of Taegu, with elevations of less than 3,940 feet (1,201 meters). The Sobaek Mountain range dominates the southern mountain and valley region, which extend southwestward from the southern end of the Taebaek Mountains. The Sobaek Mountains form an interior divide, separating the northwest area and Seoul from the southeast area and Pusan. They have a general elevation of 3,527 feet (1,075 meters), presenting a real obstacle against movement across the southern part of the peninsula. The Naktong River, located 9 miles (17 km) west of Taegu, is 283 miles (524 km) in length and enters the Korea Strait through a multi-channeled delta that is subject to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall. The Kumho River flows through Taegu, emptying into the Naktong River. There is a series of small tributaries that flow through and around Taegu. Vast rice patty fields are located throughout the river valley that are connected by a series of small irrigation ditches.
The units occupied the base's fenced-off US compound, located on what was effectively a South Korean Air Force installation that shared space with the commercial Taegu City Airport. In wartime, plans called for K-2 to "balloon" into a full-scale combat air base that would house a US Air Force fighter wing. Besides combat aircraft, plane load after plane load would touch down at K-2 and disgorge the Air Force troops and equipment needed to set up and staff that wing. Pilots, medics and mechanics, the full spectrum of air wing personnel slots, would arrive.
The 51st Fighter Wing, headquartered at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, maintained and administered US operations at Osan and 5 collocated operating bases: Taegu, Suwon, Kwang Ju, Kimhae and Cheong Ju, for reception and beddown of follow-on forces. The Wing's 51st Logistics Support Squadron planned, programed and initiated actions for the rapid reception and beddown of US forces deploying to the Republic of Korea during contingencies or wartime by maintaining five collocated operating bases and seven munitions storage sites.
The United States Air Force had a continuing requirement to maintain adequate supplies of ammunition and explosives within the ROK to support wartime and contingency operational plans. Since capabilities were limited on USAF-controlled installations, the US obtained additional storage capabilities through a concept known as MAGNUM (Munitions Storage Activities Gained by Negotiations of USAF/ROKAF Memorandum). MAGNUMs were a concept unique to Korea, where USAF-titled munitions were stored at facilities which were owned, operated, and protected by the ROKAF. Accordingly, the USAF had very little control over the storage of munitions within these areas and no authority to enforce the maintenance of Q-D clear zones. As a result of encroachment by the Korean civilians into the explosive clear zones, there were large numbers of exposures around the MAGNUMs. There was a permanent exemption from US DoD Q-D standards for off-installation and ROK exposures created by storage of USAF munitions at MAGNUM locations. This exemption applied for all off-installation and ROK violations created by the originally sited net explosives weight (NEW) of storage structures located at the Osan, Kunsan, Suwon, Kwang Ju, Sachon, Taegu, and Cheong Ju MAGNUMs.
Taegu stopped being an active base in 1989. In 1992 the US government changed the status of 3 US air bases in Korea. Kwang Ju Air Base, Suwon Air Base and Taegu Air Base, which had previously announced to be ending operations, would instead operate at reduced levels. There was a small BX/Shoppette, snack bar, gym and other typical amenities available. The commissary was located at Camp Walker (8 miles and 30 minutes drive across town). There was no dining facility and all personnel receive BAS. Along with the Korean Air Force (ROKAF), there were 110-120 army personnel stationed there.
The 607th Support Squadron was set up in the summer of 2001 to provide airfield-support services to the Army's elite Company E, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) helicopter unit, which ferried special-operations troops into combat on covert, long-distance missions, even at night and in bad weather. The 607th provided daily support of Company E, and its high-tech MH-47E Chinook heavy assault helicopters. The 607th guarded and refueled the Chinooks and provided medical services and crash-and-fire rescue crews. It also maintained the phone, computer and other communications systems E Company uses each day and operates the dining hall, dorms, recreation center and 170 buildings inside K-2.
The 607th also warehoused war-reserve materiel for a full-scale US Air Force fighter wing in wartime. The squadron had about 100 active-duty Air Force personnel and about 350 civilians, most of them contractors. The 607th warehoused the rations, tents, fuel and vehicles, flight-line equipment and a "laundry list" of other items. It also kept war-reserve materiel at Kimhae Air Base near Pusan and stations 11 of its airmen there.
Since its inception, the 607th focused on setting up house, to the tune of $60 million. The US Air Force closed operations at K-2 more than a decade prior and mothballed the compound. Now, the "ghost town" was once again a thriving, if small, military enclave. Barracks were upgraded, a dining hall renovated, hangars and other structures built, phone and computer systems installed, in all, some 50 construction projects have been completed.
The 607th Materiel Maintenance Squadron was the "caretaker" unit for Taegu Air Base. Approximately 25 people of different AFSC's were assigned there. All personnel resided in former Air Force Officer dorms, which were basically small apartments. Thirty Air Force logisticians of Detachment 1 of the 607th Material Maintenance Squadron at Osan Air Base worked and lived at Taegu Air Base, maintaining facilities and war reserve material at the co-located operation base where deployed units could take up residence and operate on a moment's notice. The 30 Air Force members functioned as quality assurance evaluators, each working in one-deep positions in various specialties: supply, fuels, transportation, aircraft systems; weapons, munitions and armament; aerospace ground equipment, logistics, civil engineering, information management and personnel. There were 2 Koreans that work with the group, the fire chief and an interpreter. The QAEs monitor more than 100 Korean contractors that work at Taegu, ensuring everything's maintained to US Air Force standards.
Most of the contractors were prior service or retired members of the Republic of Korea Air Force, so they already had experience doing their jobs. The QAEs also maintained dormitories occupied by Army troops that commute to nearby Camp Walker. The base did not have an active dining facility, but it did have a small base exchange and snack bar. Like the contingency dorms, the dining facility could be brought on line, if needed, for an influx of temporary duty personnel.
In 2002 the United States and the Republic of Korea agreed to a Land Partnership Plan (LPP) for the reorganization of US facility assets in the ROK. This included the closure, partial closure, and return of a wide array of facilities to the ROK. Taegu Air Base, however, was not included in the original 2002 agreement or the 2004 ammendments, with the US compound continuing to be a US Air Force maintained facility.
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