Expect more budget cuts, focus on the people and be creative with fiscal management, said Craig Deatrick, the director of Installation Management Command-Pacific during a July 14 visit to Camp Casey, the U.S. Army’s permanent, forward deployed installation in South Korea.
Camp Casey is about 20-minutes from the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ. It’s a community of approximately 10,000 personnel. The U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey supports transformation efforts that relocate U.S. personnel from Yongsan and K-16 to Camp Humphreys as part the U.S. and Republic of Korea’s relocation plan.
During the meeting with garrison leadership, Deatrick discussed lingering perceptions concerning base closure initiatives, “It’s [Camp Casey] the garrison that was supposed to go away,” said Deatrick. “We are still here and we still need the capabilities.”
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said. Despite the transformation and restructure Camp Casey has continued to distinguish itself in stewardship and maintenance.
“I’m impressed with how well maintained it is around here,” Deatrick said.
The Camp Casey Land Farm, which collects and remediates approximately 750 cubic meters of contaminated soil annually was part of the windshield tour.
“This operation realizes annual savings of more than $4 million,” said Yun Heo, the director of Public Works, “compared to paying to dispose of hazardous waste disposal.”
It’s about taking care of Soldiers, reducing costs and creating efficiencies, he says.
“My in-house workforce planned, scheduled and executed the construction of a central chiller plant supplying air conditioning for seven large barracks which gained energy efficiencies resulting in more than $2.1 million in energy savings over the next 10 years,” Heo said. “The closure of Camp Red Cloud in 2018, gave us the opportunity to harvest electronic controls, mechanical systems and it also aligned with Army goals to reduce costs and create savings.”
Heo explained, it wasn’t just about savings.
“By harvesting the equipment from the now closed Camp Red Cloud, the garrison averted the expensive repairs and replacement of individual air conditioning systems that would have cost more than $1.5M,” he said. “However, the dismantle, transport, and reinstallation of the two cooling towers and chillers with all the associated controls and components allowed the garrison to turn on the AC [air conditioning] by May 15th as usual.”
Heo said the DPW saved money and we seamlessly took care of the Soldiers.
“Success isn’t just saving money,” he said. “We helped our staff realize their full capabilities, and it boosted morale and confidence.”
“It [the project] involved every skill set of our in-house workforce” he said. “Although challenged by the inclement weather, our in-house workforce [roads and grounds, metal and electrical shop to name a few. They stayed on course executing the plan, installing the systems and utility lines to be fully operational – and we were.”
Deatrick talked about the importance of providing quality services as Soldiers conduct quality training, and while they are living in South Korea.
“This is one of the best garrison’s I’ve seen,” said Deatrick. These young, first termers will likely enjoy their time and reenlist. People are first.”
He asked each leader to consider, how do we take care of our people?
The Indo-Pacific region is of strategic importance and Camp Casey is leading the way, he said.
Efforts to beautify, modernize and harvest resources has become a common theme as the installations in the north focus on returning closed camps back to the republic of Korea.
“As the commander of USAG Yongsan-Casey, my goal is to ensure this is the best garrison in the Army,” said Col. Ellis R. Baker, garrison commander. “The teams efforts to beautify, modernize and harvest installation resources now pays dividends into the future. As allies and friends, stewardship ensures readiness and provides a foundation of wellness and stability that allows our Soldiers and families to perform at their best.”
The message is clear from the top, he said. “We’re preserving our resources knowing that if budgets are cut we can continue to be the best garrison in the Army.”
The communities at Camp Casey, Yongsan, and K-16 are vibrant, transforming installations, and we are still here, he said.