USAG YONGSAN -- U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan has been the heart of U.S. military installations in Korea. The garrison has provided a wide variety of services to Soldiers, community members and families all across the peninsula, and has been home to many units as well. As a consequence, there are large inflows and outflows of people all year-round. The Life Support Areas (LSA) in Yongsan make it possible to accommodate large movements of personnel.
There are a total of three LSAs throughout Area II: Walker Center on South Post, Tent City at Camp Coiner, and one at Camp Tango. The primary purpose of LSAs is to support exercises, especially the two peninsula-wide Ulchi Freedom Guardian and Key Resolve. During the exercise period, military personnel from other garrisons and overseas visit USAG Yongsan to join and support the exercise.
LSAs in USAG Yongsan are managed by the Logistics Readiness Center-Yongsan on behalf of the USAG Yongsan Directorate of Public Works.
The tents at Camp Tango are only set up during the exercises. Tent city in Camp Coiner, however, stays up all year long. Located down the hill from Gate #20, tent city is capable of accommodating a total of 625 military personnel. Almost all of the tents are occupied during Key Resolve, and two-thirds for UFG, respectively. This year has seen more vacant tents than usual with an occupancy of about 55 percent as a result of the relocation to USAG Humphreys.
The history of tent city dates back to 1996. At that time, tents were built at Camp Coiner before the exercise and were disassembled after the end of an exercise. However, this repeated process resulted in accelerated deterioration of the tents. In response to this problem, it was decided in 2005 that the tents should stay up all year long, marking the beginning of tent city. LRC-Yongsan pays for maintenance costs so that tents are managed all year round, on a daily basis, by the 9th Korean Service Corps (KSC).
The durability of tent city also stems from the tents' foundation of platforms, enabling them to withstand inclement weather conditions. Sandbags are also placed around the tents. Safety and fire inspections are conducted on a regular basis.
The small and narrow appearance of the tents is deceiving. A single tent can actually accommodate up to 20 Soldiers. In tent city, Soldiers accessorize their bed space for enhanced comfort. Moreover, the tents come equipped with all of the necessities, including fans and fire extinguishers. Outside the tents, there are two areas for people to take showers. The containers are cleaned by contractors.
"Like the Walker Center, we strive to provide convenience to military personnel at tent city," said Yun, Pyong-chol, who has worked as the maintenance mechanic foreman of the 9th KSC for 30 years. "This is so that they can focus on the exercise and rest without having to worry about other issues."
Despite their best efforts, people might experience some degree of inconvenience during their stay in tent city. Nevertheless, Yongsan's tent facility is more comfortable than other similar facilities elsewhere, said Yun.
"I'm really satisfied [staying here]," said Sgt. Paul Oiler of the 21st Air Defense Artillery from Camp Carroll at Daegu, Area IV. "I thought it was going to be really bad, but there's air conditioning, and everything went OK."
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tents are where most of the Soldiers gather together during their free time. There are three MWR tents at tent city. One is where phones and vending machines are installed, while another is where people can watch TV or movies with popcorn or read books. The tents even have wifi.
On the other hand, the Walker Center, which was built in 1959 and is located around the Yongsan Fire Department on South Post, is operational all year-round. Soldiers mostly end up staying at the center while visiting the Korean Battle Simulation Center during the exercise, Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital, or participating in the mandatory trainings provided at USAG Yongsan. The center is not open to family members or minors.
The total capacity of the center is 330, and 52 are reserved for females. Customers are placed in several separate bays, depending on customers' gender and rank. Female bays are located deep inside the center, and they use a separate bathroom. Sometimes the overflow bay is operational so that the center can welcome more females. During the exercise, per guidance, females are often assigned to the Walker Center.
People can reserve rooms at the Walker center through the LRC's Walker Center NCOIC, or Walker Center Charge of Quarters (CQ). Reservations are then booked based on priority and availability.
One of the merits of staying at the center is that it is free, unlike other on-post lodging facilities like the Dragon Hill Lodge. The Walker Center is ideal for accommodating groups of Soldiers.
The Walker Center offers a day room where customers can use computers and watch TV. Equipped with wifi, the center also provides clean linen in addition to a laundry room where customers can do their own laundry. Customers are generally satisfied with the accommodations, said George Carlson, Plans and Operations Officer of LRC-Yongsan.
Rules are in place to ensure lodging comfort. The Walker Center is primarily a billeting area, so the light is low in the bays. Furthermore, loud noise, alcohol, and smoking are strictly forbidden. Smoking is only allowed in authorized smoking areas outside the center. There is a strict curfew in place: 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. everyday. CQs monitor the center though CCTVs installed in the hallways for safety and security purposes.
During exercises, the center is usually packed with Soldiers. Eighth Army coordinates mayoral cells to manage the LSAs in Area II in the place of the CQs who take charge of the center during normal duty days. Also, personal laundry service is provided to support the augmentees staying in all of the LSAs. Up to two laundry bags per person, under 12 articles, are taken to the laundry and returned to the customer in three days.
It is projected that tent city will close in November 2018 in conjunction with the gradual closure plan of Camp Coiner. However, the Walker Center is expected to provide services for a few more years since it services hospital visitors.