It's now almost a month since since I assumed command here in Area I and I and my family are positively thrilled to be among the newest members of the Warrior Country community.
We're not new to Korea -- we've lived for the past year in Seoul; my wife and children continue to live in Yongsan. I'm also aware of the special tip-of-the-spear importance of Area I. I'm thrilled to be where the 2nd Infantry Division calls home and forms the keystone of our ROK/US alliance.
And it's the division's presence in Area I that gives us, the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I, a clean, clear view of our number one mission: to support the 2nd Infantry Division with a robust array of facilities, programs and services that help it keep ready to "Fight Tonight." We do everything possible to best serve the "Warrior Division" here in "Warrior Country."
Our garrison makes sure the Warrior Division and our other tenant units have the electricity, water, well-maintained roads, barracks and other buildings and services they need for round-the-clock operations. We also ensure they have the shopping, recreational facilities, and other services Soldiers and families need every day. Strong services ensure resiliency.
This garrison also supports several other tenants who call Warrior Country home. Among these units are elements of the Eighth Army's 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and our U.S. Air Force friends, including those of the 604th Air Support Operations Squadron.
So supporting the warfighter is, first, last, and always, our paramount mission.
Well, as you may have read here recently, Warrior Country is in for some very big -- although gradual -- changes. These changes will affect all members of our community in one way or another.
You may remember that these changes will occur under a long-standing agreement between the Republic of Korea and the United States. It calls for the bulk of U.S. forces in Korea to consolidate into two regional hubs south of Seoul. One hub is at USAG-Humphreys in Pyeongtaek; the other hub is in the southern portion of the peninsula, USAG-Daegu.
The plan calls for Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division to roll out of Area I for a new home to the south.
For the Warrior Division this will be of huge benefit. When the time comes for the division's Soldiers to depart Area I, they'll move into new and cutting-edge facilities. Soldiers, civilians and family members will also enjoy high quality recreational and shopping opportunities, as well as programs and services geared to the needs of families and children.
But before that happens our Area I community faces some challenges and important decisions, especially for those with families.
Within this next year alone we'll see some of these big changes. Command sponsorship in Area I is being phased out. The Casey Elementary School will close its doors in June 2015. And of course many of the family-oriented services and programs that we've grown in recent years will reduce or end.
Because of all this, I want you to know three key things about this transition and how we will work our way through it wisely and efficiently:
• Our priority remains to give you, our community members, timely updates on the timetable and procedures for these changes. We know you need that kind of information -- fresh, accurate and official -- and need it as early as possible, so you can make the best possible decisions for yourself and your family.
• As our Area I population decreases, so will the level of our on-post services. But we will apply careful analysis and practical common sense to manage the pace and scale of those reductions. The aim will be to keep services as closely matched to the needs of our population as possible, all the way through this transition.
• We will continue our unflagging focus on our garrison's mission: robust support for the 2nd Infantry Division and our other tenant units with everything we can give them as they proceed by stages through Area I's big transition.
I'll have a word for you on other topics in the coming months but I wanted to start with this one. I look forward to working with you as we in Area I move together through what's ahead. And in the meantime I wish you a safe and enjoyable summer.