Army secretary tours Korea, supports quality of life
November 25, 2008
<strong>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</strong> -- Secretary of the Army Pete Geren toured U.S. Forces Korea Nov. 23-25 for a three-day orientation visit.
A primary focus during Geren's visit was tour normalization. One key Army goal in Korea is to continue increasing command sponsorship in order to move toward tour normalization.
Normalization is a process that will make it possible for Soldiers serving in the Republic of Korea to live like they would at stateside garrison establishments.
"I feel confident we are going to head toward normalization in the not too distant future," Geren said during an interview with the American Forces Network-Korea while visiting USAG-Yongsan. "Camp Humphreys has a $12.9 billion investment that is underway to have high-quality quarters there for Families and single Soldiers."
The cost is higher than stateside garrisons implementations because the majority of the work in Korea is "fresh, from the ground up." This will require a key expansion to the USAG-Humphreys location, officials briefed the secretary.
Geren toured the progress at USAG-Humphreys where the majority of USAG-Yongsan personnel and operations are expected to relocate.
"They have state-of-the-art fitness facilities and other amenities to ensure that our Soldiers have the quality of life that they deserve," Geren said.
During the AFN interview, Geren explained the vital role of the U.S. military presence in the Republic of Korea.
"The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is a strategic alliance for the United States and it's a strategic alliance for the world," Geren said. "The 21st century is becoming increasingly a century of the Pacific, and this alliance gives us an opportunity to stabilize a role in the key region of the world.
Geren also toured several other locations throughout the peninsula, meeting with commanding officials and supporting troops. No one went unnoticed as he stopped to speak with anyone in his path and some slightly outside his path.
The secretary visited 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers near the Demilitarized Zone, toured Panmunjom in the Joint Security Area and even went down into the North Korean infiltration tunnels.
While touring Brian Allgood Hospital at Yongsan Garrison, Geren spoke to hospitalized Soldiers and Family members to make sure they felt they were receiving the best possible care.
While meeting with community members, Geren emphasized some of the key points of the Army Family Covenant.
"We are committed to a quality of life that is equal to the quality of extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform," Geren said.
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