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The unit, slated to be set up in the first half of next year, will be comprised of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division located in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, and a South Korean brigade-level unit, the ministry said. In peacetime, the envisioned unit will have a joint staff, which will be headed by a major general-level U.S. officer, a ministry official said, according to Yonhap news agency.
Officials say the newly-created unit will be assigned to carry out special operations such as eliminating weapons of mass destruction, as well as civil missions against North Korea.“The new joint division is expected to improve the Seoul-Washington joint deterrence posture and boost our military’s capabilities to carry out joint operations,” the ministry said in a statement. The agreement, however, does not mean any revision to their ongoing plan of relocating the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) bases south of Seoul, according to officials.
“The 2nd Division and the headquarters of the envisioned joint unit will be based in Uijeongbu. After the relocation project is completed, they will then be moved to Pyeongtaek,” the ministry said.
In accordance with the 2004 agreement, Seoul and Washington have been working to relocate the Yongsan Garrison, the sprawling U.S. military headquarters in central Seoul, and the 2nd Division north of Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of the capital, by the end of 2016.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.