US Forces Order of Battle
- In February 2003 the 8th Army announced an Involuntary Foreign Service Tour Extension for 90-days. The reason for the IFSTE was that 8th Army was not receiving replacements due to current operations and needs of the Army. Once their 90-day extension was up, they rotated to their assignment as previously scheduled. This impacted some 2,800 soldiers. [It was initially not clear whether or not the replacement for those soldiers had already arrived in the region, thus making US forces presence larger then the normal 37,000 personnel, but it was subsequently determined that overall personnel levels were not affected.]
- On February 6, the Navy ordered the USS Carl Vinson and its Battle Group to the Western Pacific where it will replace the Kitty Hawk Battle Group and be in position to respond to any events that may develop regarding North Korea. This development is listed on the US Forces Japan page.
- In late February the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, an element of the 1st Infantry Division arrived in Korea to participate in Foal Eagle. Fort Riley, the base that the 2-34 Armor is from indicated that between 400-500 soldiers were involved in the movement.
- On February 28 the Department of Defense ordered the deployment of 24 bombers to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to act as a deterrent to North Korea. The deployment would consist of twelve B-52s and twelve B-1Bs. As of March 5 it was not clear which units would be sent or when they would deploy.
- By March 10, 2003 seven B-52s and ten B-1s were at Andersen Air Force Base. The aircraft belonged to the 7th Bomb Wing and the 2nd Bomb Wing.
- Elements of the 40th Infantry Division (Mechanized) were alerted to prepare to deploy to South Korea. This is not a normally scheduled deployment.
- On March 11 the Associated Press reported that at least six F-117 Nighthawks from the 49th Fighter Wing will deploy to the South Korea in support of RSOI/FE 2003. CNN on March 12 indicates that the aircraft are headed to Kunsan Air Base.
- It has recently been confirmed by GlobalSecurity.org that elements of the 3rd Wing have indeed been ordered to deploy to South Korea in support of RSOI/FE. Specific numbers or squadrons would not be disclosed. CNBC reported on March 10 that F-15s from Alaska were being deployed to South Korea or Japan.
- According to the International Herald Tribune on March 13, 2003 six F-117s departed New Mexico for Kunsan Air Base pn March 13 and will arrive in Korea on March 14.
- According to Stars & Stripes on March 13 elements of the 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne) are operating in South Korea. The element is E Company, and is normally based in the region.
- THe Korean Times confirmed on April 2 that US aircraft that had been sent to the region would remain after the conclusion of RSOI/FE. The story indicated that all 6 F-117s and 20 F-15Es would remain in the area.
- On April 13 all of the 24 bombers at Guam were evacuated from the airbase as a Typhoon was headed for the area. All of the aircraft were sent to either Hickam Air Force Base or to Fairchild Air Force Base. It is not clear if or when the bombers will redeploy though they are apparently still under the operational control of the 7th AEW.
- The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron has been ordered to deploy to Guam until December 15, according to the Clarion-Ledger on April 22, 2003. 100 airmen are involved. The airmen departed on April 24, 2003 and included 3 aircraft and six air crews.
- The 1st Battalion, 185th Armor Regiment, and element of the 40th Infantry Division, which had been previously alerted, was de-alerted on April 21. 1,000 soliders were involved in the call-up according to the San Bernardino County Sun on April 22, 2003. This may be due to the recent availability of the 1st Cavalry Division.
- Nearly all of the aircraft that had been evacuated from Andersen AFB have returned to Guam. Some aircraft still exist at Fairchild and at Hickam, but this is due to maintenance issues, which as soon as these are resolved the aircraft are to return to Guam.
- On 30 April 2003 it was announced that United States would deploy new air defense Patriot missiles in South Korea later in the year.
- On May 4, a story in the Pacific Stars and Stripes reported that the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor has received orders to return to Fort Riley and that it would begin to depart South Korea soon.
- The USS Kitty Hawk and elements of her carrier strike group returned to Yokosuka on May 6. According to various news sources the Kitty Hawk is preparing to enter the yard for an availability and may not be able to deploy until October.
- The element of the 3rd Wing that was deployed to Korea in March has been identified as the 90th Fighter Squadron and is currently at Osan Air Force Base according to a PACAF story on May 5, 2003. Roughly 24 F-15s and 800 airmen deployed.
- In May 2003 the Department of the Army implemented a second involuntary extension for selected 8th U.S. Army soldiers. More than 1800 soldiers and warrant officers in the 8th U.S. Army whose previous departure dates were June 1, to Aug. 30, 2003 are affected by the involuntary extension. The soldiers and warrant officers affected in the previous 90-day extension are not included in this iteration.
- The fate of the USS Carl Vinson and elements of her strike group is still in doubt. Various media sources have indicated that the group will remain deployed into the Fall, though initial responses from the Carrier Strike Group denied the validity of those reports. Reports from the Associated Press and Bremerton papers on May 15 indicate that the Navy has confirmed that the Carl Vinson's deployment had been extended.
- The May issue of Air Force Magazine revealed that the United States had sent some undisclosed number of F-16s to Andersen Air Force Base from the 18th Fighter Squadron of the 354th Fighter Wing on March 24, 2003 in an effort to improve the airbases "devensive posture in the Pacific region." A story in the Pacific Daily News on March 28, 2003 confirmed the story indicating that a squadron had deployed to the base but did not identify which squadron.
- It turns out that the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment is not the only element of the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Brigade in Korea right now. Some unknown element of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment is also in Korea having deployed with the 2-34th for Foal Eagle according to the 19th Theater Support Command paper. According to the article the Task Force withdrew enough equipment for 2 armor companies, 1 mechanized infantry company, a field artillery battery, a headquarters element, and equipment for a forward support battalion.
- The Korea Herald reported on May 23, 2003 that the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment along with some element of the III Marine Expeditionary Force had arrived in South Korea for the Korean Incremental Training Program which would take place May 28 through June 19.
- US Forces Korean and the South Korean government announced on May 31 that the United States would bolster its forece presence in South Korea and improve technical capabilities including the deployment of additional Patriot units and by beginning to rotate in Stryker Brigades into the country beginning this Summer.
- By May 27, 2003 nearly all of the bombers that had been sent to Guam were sent back to the United States. A report from Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a report from Reuters confirmed that all 12 B-52s from the 2nd Bomb Wing had returned and that 8 of twelve B-1Bs from the 7th Bomb Wing had returned to the US as well, with the remaining 4 to depart the island in the coming days.
- F-117s from the 49th Fighter Wing have apparently all returned from South Korea by June 6, 2003. Two of the aircraft had returned previously. Fred Kaplan's piece on Slate.com called "Backing off the DMZ: Bush's (sort of) smart move in Korea" on June 9 was the first indication of the removal of those aircraft.
- Kaplan also writes that the F-15Es from the 90th Fighter Squadron returned to Alaska. This took place on May 31, 2003.
- Task Force 2-34 returned from South Korea on May 28, 2003. The unit was believed to have had nearly 1,000 soldiers deployed.
- On 31 May 2003 Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, Commander United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea, outlined several near-term force enhancements, including upgrades to the intelligence collection systems, increased numbers of improved precision munitions, rotational deployment of the Army's newest Stryker unit to improve responsiveness, and additions to Army pre-positioned stocks to increase readiness to defend the Republic of Korea. South Korea was opposed to publicising the plan.
- Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment departed South Korea on June 24, 2003 after completing exercises on the Korean Peninsula.
- Despite discussions that a Stryker unit would begin to rotate to the Korean Peninsula sometime this Summer or in the Fall reports in US papers indicate that the Department of Defense plans on deploying the only Stryker Brigade currently certified to Iraq rather than South Korea, delaying the arrival of such a brigade to the 8th Army AOR for some time. Provided that the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (SBCT) is certified, it might not be available for a deployment until late 2004.
- Summer rotations are under way, and VAQ-133 has arrived at Okinawa for its rotation.
- A DoD briefing concerning US force presence in Iraq indicated that the United States had some 31,460 Army personnel located in South Korea. This number is roughly 4,000 soldiers higher than all previous press releases.
- US forces stationed in South Korea announced on Saturday 29 June 2003 an 11-billion-dollar plan to build up their war capability over the following three years. This followed the ROK-U.S. Defense Ministerial Talks held in Washington, DC on 27 June 2003.
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on July 30, 2003 indicated that the unit from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division that was headed to Korea is Charlie Co, 5th Battalion 20th Infantry. Roughly 56 soldiers deployed on July 30 and is due to return on August 8.
- The Singapore Straits Times reported on August 13, 2003 that the USNS Observation Island, a naval intelligence vessel, made a brief port call to Singapore, received some repairs at a local dry dock and departed the port on or about August 9, 2003. The vessel has apparently been stationed offshore of North Korea and China monitoring potential missile tests.
- An 8th Army news release indicates that roughly 14,500 US soldiers are taking part in Ulchi Focus Lens 2003, though an earlier Korea-Net release indicates that some 8,000 ROKA soldiers and 6,500 USA soldiers are taking part in the exercise, bringing the total to 14,500. It is not clear is the 8th Army release lumped the two armies together to arrive at the total, or if there are in fact some 8,000 additional, non-USFK forces stationed in and South Korea taking part in the exercise.
- The San Antonio Express-News reported on August 22, 2003 that there are elements of the III Corps command staff in Korea taking part in Ulchi Focus Lens 2003. The article which concerned the potential deployment of III Corps to Iraq to replace V Corps indicates that there are roughly 200 soldiers from the corps, including its commanding general, in South Korea.
- Various news reports on August 29, 2003 and sources within the Navy confirmed that the USS Carl Vinson and elements of her Carrier Strike Group would return to the United States, making a port call at San Diego on or about September 16, 2003 to offload the Carrier Air Wing. The USS Nimitz is to depart the Persian Gulf region and head to the Sea of Japan/East Sea to replace the Carl Vinson until the USS Kitty Hawk is able to deploy.
- A B-2 bomber deployed to Guam in mid-September 2003 as part of a Global Power mission. The aircraft was at Andersen Air Force Base for a couple of days and returned to the United States.
- VF-154, an F-14 Tomcat squadron assigned to the Kitty Hawk's Carrier Air Wing, has departed Japan and is being rotated back out to the United States where it will transition to the F/A-18 E/F and will be assigned to the Carl Vinson's air wing.
- On October 13, 2003 the USS Kitty Hawk got underway for post-Yard Time sea trials in preperation for its Fall Underway period. This means that the Kitty Hawk is available to deal with contingencies as they arise.
- The Dallas Morning News reported on January 19, 2004 that the Pentagon was planning on redeploying aircraft, including bombers, to Guam and other areas of the Pacific and Asia to offset the reduction in combat strength caused by the deployment of forces from these areas to the Persian Gulf. No indication was given as to when the aircraft would be repositioned.
- Voice of America and the Associated Press confirm that the United States plans to deploy six B-52H bombers to Guam. The aircraft will be from the 5th Bomb Wing, and will include some 300 airmen for support. The deployment is to take place sometime in February.
- Pacific Air Force reported on February 22, 2004 that the first three of six B-52s from the 5th Bomb Wing arrived at Andersen Air Force Base.
- A photo released by the Air Force illustrating the arrival of the first three B-52s at Andersen Air Force Base, indicates that in addition to the presence of B-52s, at least one B-1B is also present at the facility (or at least was at the end of February). This B-1B presence had not previously been disclosed by the Air Force. The photo can be seen here.
- An Air Force TV & Radio News story indicates that all six B-52s are present at Andersen Air Force Base, as is one B-1B bomber, clearly shown in the video. To see the story click here and watch the "New Mission" piece.
- RSOI/FE 2004 will begin on March 21 and will run through March 28. This exercise includes an additional 8,500 troops, likely Marines from Okinawa.
- The Abilene (TX) Reporter-News reports that an unspecified number of B-1Bs from the 7th Bomb Wing were deployed to the Pacific to replace bombers from Ellsworth AFB. The story, printed on March 19, 2004, does not mention Guam as the location of the deployment, but does indicate that the unit was sent there a year ago and that it would be deploying to the Pacific. Guam is the only bomber base in the Pacific.
- The El Paso Times reported 01 May 2004 that " Fort Bliss would send about 550 soldiers from the 35th Air Defense Brigade, including two Patriot missile batteries, to South Korea over the next year.... The post will spend the next six months forming, training and deploying crews and the Patriot batteries to South Korea... the deployment would send the batteries to Gwangju Air Base in southern South Korea and the brigade headquarters to Osan Air Base..." The 125-member 35th Air Defence Brigade headquarters will be located at Osan Air Base. Two batteries with a total of 425 troops and 16 fire units of the new Patriot Advanced Capability 2 and 3 missile defense systems will deploy to Gwangju [Kwangju] Air Base. The move is part of the $11 billion package to improve US military readiness on the peninsula announced in mid-2003.
- The New York Times reported on May 17, 2004 that the Department of Defense was considering the redeployment of roughly a brigades worth of troops from South Korea to Iraq. A redeployment of 2nd Infantry Division soldiers to Iraq would be unprecedented, as these units are part of the deterrence force in the ROK to discourage North Korean aggression and have previously not been ordered to deploy in support of other operations. While the New York Times story indicated that this plan was still very much in development, the Korea Times reported on May 18, 2004 that the US had already informed South Korea if its plan to move troops to Iraq, according to Kim Sook head of the ROK's Foreign Ministry's North American Bureau. The Korea Times report also indicated that the first elements of the 2nd Infantry Division would begin to deploy within the next 2 weeks. Other reports seem to challenge this assessment, indicating that the units would be part of the OIF 3 rotation. This may also cause ROK leaders to not deploy its 3,000 troops to Iraq, as the security situation in the ROK will have changed.
- A DOD briefing on May 17, 2004 confirmed that elements of the 2nd Infantry Division would be deploying to Iraq. The 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is the unit tapped to go. The deployment will be for one year.
- On May 25, 2004, two B-52s bombers from the 96th Bomb Squadron left Barksdale AFB for Andersen AFB, Guam, as part of a 90-day Air and Space Expeditionary Force rotation. Part of a six-airplane deployment, the aircraft were due to replace B-52s from the 5th Bomb Wing.
- On June 21, Holloman AFB officials announced that elements of the 49th Fighter Wing, with an unspecified number of F-117A aircraft would be deployed to the Western Pacific region for an unspecified length of time.
- The Korea Herald reported on June 30, 2004 that a squadron of F-117A aircraft had arrived in s. Korea to be stationed at Kunsan AB. The Korea Times, on that same date, reported that the deployment would last 3 to 4 months. Ten of the fighters landed at the base. The specialized team was to spend up to four months there so its members can familiarize themselves with the topography of the peninsula, the Japan Islands and the nearby seas.
- U.S., Republic of Korea Reach Agreement on Troop Redeployment 06 Oct 2004 -- The Department of Defense announced today that after several months of close consultations, the United States and the Republic of Korea have reached final agreement regarding the June 2004 U.S. proposal to redeploy 12,500 U.S. troops from Korea. Throughout these consultations, the United States has made clear that it remains committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea, to the security and stability of the region and to a strengthened Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance. The future of the alliance is strong and will be adaptive to change and responsive to the needs of the Korean people.
- SOKOR/US TROOPS VOA 06 Oct 2004 -- South Korea and the United States have agreed that U.S. troop strength in the Asian country will be reduced at a much slower pace than originally announced. VOA's Steve Herman reports from Tokyo that the change came after intense pressure from Seoul.
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