Keeping bold deterrence while shifting forces

By Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commanding general, Eighth ArmySeptember 29, 2016

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1 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A CH-47 Chinook from the 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, airlifts a segment of a floating bridge during a combined river crossing exercise on the Imjin River in the Republic of Korea, April 5-8. The exercise was one of the largest... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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2 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The future Eighth Army headquarters building is shown at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys near Pyeongtaek. Eighth Army is preparing to relocate the majority of forces to Camp Humphrey as part of the largest transformation and relocation of forces on the ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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3 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division cross the Imjin River in the Republic of Korea April 8 during a combined river crossing exercise that integrated both ROK and U.S. units. The 1st ABCT is in Sout... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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4 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier from the Republic of Korea Army's 6th Engineer Brigade stands in front of a U.S. Army Bradley Fighting vehicle during a combined river crossing exercise April 8 in the Republic of Korea. The exercise was one of the largest of its kind in mo... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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5 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – American and South Korean Soldiers from the ROK-U.S. Alliance stand separated from North Korean soldiers by just a few feet at the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom, South Korea earlier this year. Since the close of the Korean War the demilitarized zo... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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6 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Eighth Army Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal speaks to attendees during a town hall meeting April 6 at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea. The town hall was the first in a series of community gatherings to discuss the ongoing Transforma... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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7 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – An AN/MPQ-65 Patriot radar set from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is unloaded from a C-17 Globemaster cargo plane Feb. 8 at Osan Air Base, South Korea. A Patriot Battery from the 11th ADA Bde. deployed to the ROK as part of an emergency dep... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

For Eighth Army, being ready to "Fight Tonight" is not just a slogan, it's a way of life. As members of the ROK-U.S. Alliance we stand as a lethal deterrent to North Korean aggression in defense of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. That's why we exist, and for more than sixty-six years we have filled that critical mission with unwavering resolve.

Yet today peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is being challenged by an increasingly unpredictable regime in the North, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With the constant threat of provocation and escalation, Eighth Army must maintain a credible deterrent to North Korean aggression and be ready to defend the ROK at all times.


Since 2011 North Korea has invested heavily in the development of nuclear and bio-chemical weapons, cyber warfare capabilities, and building an elite special operations command with more than 80,000 forces. This emergence of asymmetric warfare capabilities coincides with a series of intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in defiance of international sanctions to further develop the country's ballistic missile capabilities.

This past January North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test, and Kim Jong-Un announced two months later that the North had mastered the technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to mount on a ballistic missile. While it appears they have yet to perfect either capability, these developments pose an immediate and credible threat to the entire region.

North Korea also maintains the world's fourth largest conventional military with more than one million personnel, 4,200 tanks, 2,200 armored vehicles, 8,600 field artillery and 5,500 multiple rocket launchers. The majority of this equipment is forward deployed, along with 70% of the Korean People's Army, within striking distance of the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area and its more than 25.4 million inhabitants.

Given the unpredictable nature of the Kim regime, the probability for quick escalation, and the proximity of the threat, it is imperative that Eighth Army maintains a readiness posture that will deter future aggression and provocations.


As North Korea continues to diversify its military capabilities, Eighth Army is prepared to support the Alliance with flexible deterrent options and increased readiness to prevent a crisis situation from escalating.

In 2013, Eighth Army began to integrate fully-manned rotational units under the Army's Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) initiative on nine-month deployments into the Korean Theater of Operations (KTO). The type of units to rotate through the KTO in the last three years has included Multiple Launch Rocket System Battalions, Engineering Companies, Armored Brigade Combat Teams, and Attack Reconnaissance Squadrons.

The introduction of rotational units into the KTO enhances readiness and maintains unit-cohesion in a theater where constant turnover is the norm. Conducting routine rotations also provides a great opportunity for Eighth Army to exercise critical wartime functions such as reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI) as the Army Forces Component for the KTO.

Rotational units increase capabilities of U.S. Forces Korea, including theater maneuver; CBRNE reconnaissance, decontamination and consequence management; mobility and counter-mobility; counter-special operations forces; counter-fire; and enhanced reconnaissance, security and attack capabilities. The capacity of RAF units to seamlessly integrate into our existing operational tempo and fill these specific mission sets demonstrates the scalable, mission-prepared capabilities that the initiative has brought to Eighth Army and the Alliance.

Eighth Army also integrates other Pacific Command (PACOM) and U.S.-based units during emergency deployment readiness exercises (EDRE) for short-term deployments. In February, the 35th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade integrated a battery of Soldiers from the 11th ADA Brigade stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas to conduct a missile defense EDRE. The exercise allowed U.S. Patriot forces to conduct RSOI operations with personnel and equipment to augment current ballistic missile defense forces on the Korean Peninsula. As North Korea continues to develop ballistic missiles against the expressed will of the international community, Eighth Army must support the Alliance by developing a comprehensive multi-layered capability to defend against, detect, disrupt, and destroy missile threats. The rapid deployment of EDRE units to the KTO to augment current missile defense systems provides Eighth Army yet another option to quickly bolster an already robust defense.

During the annual combined, joint field training exercise Foal Eagle, elements of the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. integrated with Eighth Army as part of Pacific Pathways. Under Pacific Pathways a small expeditionary "nucleus" deploys to the Asia-Pacific and rotates through a series of security cooperation exercises, adapting at each stop to the operating environment of the partner nation. The integration of mission-tailored and task-organized units under Pacific Pathways has greatly improved the scope and quality of our combined engagements and strengthened readiness at multiple echelons.

Another component to maintaining a credible, effective deterrent is better integration of the Alliance's combined capabilities. Eighth Army took a positive step towards integration in June 2015 with the establishment of the first-ever ROK-U.S. Combined Division, comprised of elements of the 2nd Infantry Division (Now the 2nd Inf. Div./ROK-U.S. Combined Division) and the Third ROK Army.

The 2nd Inf. Div. serves as the core of the Combined Division, with a functioning combined staff under Armistice conditions that becomes fully integrated in wartime. By conducting combined planning and training at multiple echelons, Eighth Army has greatly enhanced interoperability with our ROK partners and laid the ground work for continued cooperation in the future.


As the Alliance evolves to meet future security concerns in the KTO, Eighth Army is undergoing the most sweeping transformation in our organization's history to sustain long-term readiness. At the forefront of this transformation is the consolidation of a majority of Eighth Army military personnel at two enduring hubs south of Seoul -- a Central operational hub around the cities of Osan and Pyeongtaek -- and a Southern logistics hub around the city of Daegu.

The re-posturing of forces creates a less intrusive geographic presence, while positioning Eighth Army to modernize life support and command and control operations by consolidating mission command and C4I facilities. The bulk of the moves are scheduled to occur in 2017-2018, including the relocation of the U.S. Forces Korea, Eighth Army, and the 2nd Inf. Div./ROK-U.S. Combined Division Headquarters. The $10.7 billion construction project at Camp Humphreys constitutes the largest building project in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District's history.

As we relocate more than 29,000 people, we will do so without degrading our ability to "Fight Tonight". Eighth Army has made it a priority to maintain transparency and minimize disruption to personnel throughout the move to prevent any decrease in readiness.


As Eighth Army continues to evolve to defend against an emerging, asymmetric North Korean threat, transforming for the future is vital. By aggressively working to strengthen readiness across the full spectrum of operations, Eighth Army will arm the Alliance with credible and flexible deterrent options for a wide range of contingencies, establish the conditions to achieve sustainable security outcomes, and provide ready Army forces in this increasingly unpredictable and complex operating environment.

Pacific Victors!

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