US Reassures South Korea of its Commitment to Fight North Korea
The Eighth United States Army (EUSA) and its fighting men stationed in South Korea are prepared for combat against North Korea at any time, reassured its commander, Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal.
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EUSA is also prepared to assist South Korea in any combined endeavor, said Gen. Vandal. There are over 38,000 U.S. soldiers in South Korea.
Gen. Vandal gave these reassurances at a recent symposium on advancing joint and multinational integration of land forces in the Pacific sponsored by the Association of the United States Army Institute of Land Warfare.
EUSA consists of a task force of troops from the U.S. Army and the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA). The major subordinate command of EUSA consists of the U.S. Army's only major combined fighting force in South Korea, the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division/Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Division or RUCD.
At the core of EUSA's fighting strength, however, are the 10,000 men belonging to the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division (2ID), the largest U.S. Army combat force based in South Korea. Gen. Vandal was the former commanding general of 2ID.
The primary mission of 2ID is the defense of South Korea in the initial stages of an invasion from North Korea until American reinforcements arrive. There are some 17,000 men in 2ID with 10,000 of them deployed to South Korea. The division accounts for about 35% of the personnel in United States Forces Korea (USFK).
USFK is the joint headquarters through which U.S. combat forces will be deployed to the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command's fighting units.
The 2nd Infantry Division is unique in that it's the only U.S. Army division consisting partially of ROKA soldiers, called KATUSAs (Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army).
Gen. Vandal said both EUSA and ROKA are integrating members at the headquarters level to increase cooperation and compatibility. The combined division was activated in 2015 and has had a positive impact on joint operations.
It trains closely with the ROK 8th Infantry Division because both divisions will fight alongside each other in a war against North Korea or against North Korea and China together.
"Eighth Army is going to become a combined ground component command that will be established in 2018," said Gen. Vandal.
The United States will provide technology and maneuver forces to the task force while South Korea will primarily contribute maneuver forces.