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Osan Air Base
3705'N, 12702'E

Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets helped maintain freedom in the skies over South Korea while 36th Fighter Squadron F-16s were away at Air Force exercises. Twelve two-seat F/A-18s and approximately 170 maintenance people from Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, stationed at Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, South Carolina, arrived at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, for their 45-day tour 14 Feburary 1999. As part of their unit deployment program, the Marine aircraft flew missions normally flown by aircraft in the 36th Fighter Squadron, which were participating in Cope Thunder at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and also in Combat Archer at Tyndall AFB, Florida. The aircraft and personnel had been deployed from MCAS Beaufort to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, where they were on a 6-month deployment supporting operations in the Pacific theater.

Bomber pilots from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, demonstrated the Air Force's ability to reach out and touch the world between 7 and 9 March 2000 during a Global Power mission to the Republic of Korea. The mission, called Coronet Spider 27, called for 2 9th Bomb Squadron B-1Bs to conduct training as a complete strike package with Osan A-10s and F-16s and F-15s from Kadena Air Base, Japan. Unfortunately, training time at Osan was cut short due to unforeseen problems. One aircraft experienced minor mechanical problems and the second mission was cut short due to low visibility caused by a snowstorm.

Osan's runway closed for repairs 3 May 2000 causing a diversion of most of the base's flight operations to nearby Suwon Air Base until the project was completed on 31 May 2000. Osan's fleet of A-10s, F-16s, U-2s, the Osan Eagle and other aircraft operated out of Suwon, but helicopter operations continued at Osan. The base's C-12s operated out of nearby Camp Humphreys. Flightline workers commuted back and forth between Osan and Suwon, and about 60 to 70 people were billeted there full-time. Adding Osan's 2 flying squadrons to a base that already had a full flying schedule with 5 flying squadrons of its own really impacted the number of sorties Suwon could support. This caused a reduction in Osan's flight operations during the month. In past years, Osan closed its runway up to 2 weeks at a time for repairs, and the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron worked continuously throughout the year to fix immediate runway problems.

A senior ranking US military official said on 25 April 2003 that most of the US Forces Korea (USFK) would be moved to Osan-Pyeongtaek area in the long term, heightening the possibility that the headquarters of the ROK-US Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command (UNC), currently in Yongsan Garrison, would be moved to the area. "There is a long-term vision that has most of the US forces located in the Osan/Pyeongtaek area," said Maj. General James Soligan, Deputy Chief of Staff UNC/USFK to reporters after giving a speech before 250 American Korean War veterans in Seoul. "There are clearly discussions going on, but no decisions have been made. That's a long-term objective." According to Soligan, USFK hoped to realign and consolidate its bases, at the time scattered throughout the peninsula, into 2 major "hubs," one in the Osan-Pyeongtaek area, home of the Osan Air Base, and the other in the Daegu-Busan area, which included Camp Hialeah. It was the first time the USFK indicated a major reshuffle of military base positions. Changes in the existing Land Partnership Plan (LPP) South Korea and the US signed in 2001 to consolidate US military bases were inevitable as a result.

Under the LPP, an area outside of Osan's Beta Gate, referred to as Beta South (also referred to as Beta Site), would be closed October 2002 and returned to the ROK. This return was completed in 2003. Additionally, Alpha Site, an ammunition storage site on the Air Base was to be returned in 2008. However, with the partial closures also came additional land grants, including Delta Plus (an addition to the Delta Site ammunition storage site) and Mustang Valley Village Plus (an addition to the existing housing facility site). Also an 128 acre plot referred to as "Northern Land" was also scheduled for 2011. This was believed to be a potential site for Combined Force Command, then housed at the Yongsan Garrison, which was then scheduled to close in 2012.

South Korea and the United States agreed 17 January 2004 in a meeting held in Hawaii, US, to relocate all the US troops then stationed in Seoul. The 2 allies reached the agreement at the end of a 2 day meeting named "Future of the ROK (Republic of Korea)-US Alliance Policy Initiative" talks. All the 8,000 US troops, including the ROK-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) and the United Nations Command (UNC), would move out of Seoul to Pyeongtaek before 2006. Only the USFK general command office along with 50 relevant personnel would remain in Seoul. South Korea would shoulder all the expenses of 3 billion US dollars of the relocation. The subsequent plan to deactivate Combined Forces Command in 2008 also brought into question the nature of the "Northern Land" land grant under the original LPP.

Construction at Osan continued to meet the expected increase in capacity needed as US forces drew down across the peninsula. In July 2008 a new community center opened for the Osan base. They also opened the last of three planned multi-story apartment complexes to replace the ageing Mustang Valley Village. The first had opened in April 2006. Mustang Valley Village was subsequently closed. In October 2008, Osan Air Base gained a new four-story car park and associated sports facility.

In November 2008 General Joseph Fil indicated that the U-2 assets at Osan Air Base would be increased, but did not elaborate on what this increase would entail.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:54:43 ZULU