By Sgt. Lee Min-hwi (USAG-Yongsan)July 29, 2009
K-16 AIR BASE, Republic of Korea - United States Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp visited K-16 Air Base Wednesday, July 22. to speak with Soldiers, Installation Management Command officials, and Army Family Members. The general toured constructions sites, quarters and various facilities.
The base is home to about 1,000 U.S. Soldiers and Servicemembers from the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment and other support units. As the only enduring installation under the Yongsan Relocation Plan, the base continues to receive major construction funds as a part of the garrison's effort to support tour normalization.
General Sharp visited the K-16 Air Base Multipurpose Field construction site adjacent to the gymnasium. United States Army Garrison-Yongsan added a new four-lane, indoor swimming pool in early 2009. The Installation Management Command is also investing nearly $3.2 million to enhance the sport complex into a multipurpose field equipped with various facilities such as a soccer field, softball field and a six-lane track and more.
"K-16 is a place where we want to keep our troops here for the future in order to be able to help do the daily life support for Soldiers and Servicemembers that we will have remaining in Area I and at Yongsan, which will be a small number," Gen. Sharp said.
The general pointed out that to increase the quality of life for the American Servicemembers and their Families is one of his top priorities.
"Making sure that our Servicemembers deserve the quality of life in Korea is among three top priorities of the command," Sharp said. "We are working hard to have enough facilities we need in order to support their needs and to have their families here. It is our job to make sure that everyone can come to Korea two or three years of time with full command sponsorship."
The commander said that the command's other two priorities are the readiness of the U.S. Army to the threats of North Korea and keeping the strong alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States.
After his visit to the gymnasium, the commander toured the Community Activities Center, barracks that were flooded during the heavy monsoon rain in July, and 9-story apartment building that accommodates 144 single and unaccompanied officers and senior noncommissioned officers.
"We have worked this as a part of master plan of all the way across Korea. That was the main purpose of the visit today. I saw some good things, and I saw the others things that were not up to where we would like to have them in the future," Gen. Sharp said. "We are working hard so that the supply is able to reach the demand for the local communities."
The commander also held a luncheon after the tour with about 40 U.S. Soldiers and Family Members gathered in the K-16 Dining Facility. The general answered questions about current issues such as expanding child-care coverage, improving the availability of the swimming pool for families and the construction of new commissary at K-16.
Garrison Commander Col. Dave Hall, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment Commander Lt. Col. Matthew Lewis and officials from the USAG-Yongsan Directorate of Public Works and other branches responded to local issues; However, Gen. Sharp promised to the participants that he will get back to each person with additional details shortly.
Currently, the Defense Commissary Agency and the Installation Management Command are working on the design and contract for the construction of the K-16 Commissary with an expected completion date of October 2010.
"K-16 Air Base is a small, yet very important location," Sharp said. "It is going to be a tough, but interesting challenge to make sure to have right balance. This community will be of great importance in the future that can support the other U.S. installations as well."
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