By Col. John M. ScottMay 22, 2014
CAMP RED CLOUD -- Many of you have heard by now that some gradual but very big changes are on the way for our Area I community. Command sponsorship of families is ending. And programs and services will also therefore be phased out as our family population dwindles.
So I want to give you a quick look ahead at some of the details of all this. And tell you how we're taking steps to make sure you'll have accurate, detailed and timely updates in the weeks and months to come.
The changes that will affect our community members most are three: the elimination of command-sponsorship; the closing next year of the Casey Elementary School; and the reduction or closing of family support programs and various community services. These range from health care and recreation to postal and commissary operations.
All are set to happen as part of a longstanding plan between the U.S and South Korean governments. That plan will see the bulk of U.S. forces in Korea consolidate into two regional hubs. The main hub will be at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, the other in the southeast of the country in and near Daegu.
Because military units are slated to move south out of Area I under this plan, there will of course no longer be command-sponsorships here. The Army has already begun reducing the number of command-sponsorships for the Soldiers it's still bringing into Area I. And by the time the drawdown has run its course, command-sponsorships in our area will have been stopped altogether.
As we've already announced, the Casey Elementary School is scheduled to close in June 2015. Meanwhile, Army leaders know there'll be students in kindergarten through eighth grade who'll still be in Area I after the school has closed its doors. So they're looking carefully now at what can be done to meet those students' schooling needs.
As to programs and services, what's ahead? As command-sponsored families become a thing of the past in Area I, many of the programs and services we've proudly maintained to support them will also close.
Those include the Child Development Center (CDC); School Age Services (SAC); Youth Sports (YS); School Liaison; Teen Center; Army Family Team Building (AFTB); Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP); Employment Readiness; New Parent Support Program; Family Readiness training and support; the Lending Closet.
Also, many services will be scaled back as the customer base gets smaller. These will include clubs, bowling alleys, golf and other recreational facilities, equipment rental, the Auto Skills Center at Camp Casey, and the holding of outdoor recreation activities and community events.
We'll also see gradual reductions in services for ID cards, Ration Cards; Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP); postal operations, administrative and military personnel services; and the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP).
At our AAFES Exchanges the stock assortments can be expected to decrease as Area I's population decreases. The future of commissary services in our area is still under review.
There are of course other changes in Area I that will come as part of this repositioning of U.S. forces. But the three I've detailed here are the ones likely to most affect our military families.
With such big things in the offing, our Army leaders know that community members will need updates as to the timetable and other details for all this. And they'll need them as early in the game as possible so they can best plan for themselves and their families.
Two things especially we're doing to meet the informational need.
We've revamped the format of our quarterly community meetings so they'll be focused mainly on further updating you on the changes ahead. We call them Command Information Exchange meetings. They replace the Community Town Hall meetings we've held in the past.
Brigade commanders and other senior Warrior Country leaders will attend. And the meetings are of course open to members of our community. Questions can be asked and answered.
We held the first of these new meetings May 7 at Camp Casey. These, combined with the other robust informational efforts we'll be making, will go a long way in helping to keep community members tied in with information that's fresh, accurate and official.
Along with that, we'll be keeping you abreast of developments through our official Facebook pages and other media.
As you see, big changes are coming. And you can be sure that they'll be well thought out, carefully orchestrated, and guided by two key things: the need -- always -- to fulfill our military mission; and to ensure that as we make this changeover to a no-families area we do it in a way that works as smoothly as possible for you.
Yes, Area I will eventually be a place without military families, but you will be no less a part of our Army family. And we'll be making sure you get the hard facts and other support you need, as we navigate, together, through the coming transition.