By Mr Russell A Wicke (IMCOM)November 9, 2011
YONGSAN GARRISON, Korea -- In October, U.S. Army installations in Korea joined those in Japan, Hawaii and Alaska to form the largest geographical region organized under the Installation Management Command. IMCOM-Pacific now oversees 10 major garrisons, 90 million square feet of facilities, and spans more than 16 time zones.
Debra Zedalis, the director of this massive region, immersed herself in Korea Nov. 3-9 surveying the garrisons and seeking insight from U.S. Army leaders on the peninsula who will help her gauge how IMCOM-Pacific can best adjust to the mission of running Army posts on the peninsula.
She said in an interview Nov. 7 that her commitment to installations in Korea is the same as to those in other areas of the Pacific; and that is to make Army garrisons not just a good place of work for Soldiers, but a sanctuary comparable to home. This kind of commitment makes for a challenge given the current tough economic realities; however, Zedalis remained firm that IMCOM has no other mission than service to Soldiers.
"We are a service organization," she said. "IMCOM is about service. We [should never] lose touch with that commitment. Regions wouldn't exist if not for the garrisons. Our job is to ensure that we [provide] what the people at the garrisons need."
Zedalis acknowledged that people residing in Korea have high interest in the Humphreys construction progress and the Yongsan Relocation Plan, especially considering current economic uncertainties. She said she could not confirm constructions schedules but was excited to see from the air the vastness of the Humphreys landscape involved in the project. "It looks like it's going to be a great place for families," she said.
She said her specific role in that project, as well as all other garrisons' efforts is one of support for senior commanders. Safe living and working environments are one of the most important priorities for her, she added.
The Pacific Region is the fourth IMCOM region Zedalis has served in throughout her career, making her highly experienced and an appropriate leader in an area where so much is at stake.
The mission in the Pacific in general, and more specifically in Korea, is gaining global attention based on economic interests and potential threats in the region. Echoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Zedalis emphasized that America's future is in the Pacific, and the center of gravity is Korea. "People here are on the cutting edge," she said.
Panetta called South Korea a key global partner of the United States -- a partnership that contributes to a great force for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. From her brief travel throughout the peninsula, Zedalis said she was pleased to find, "Korean people are very interested in partnering with us. I think it is a very comfortable and welcoming environment."
The recent integration of Korea into IMCOM-Pacific introduced the challenge of combining two unique and complex regions consisting together of more than 170,000 Soldiers and covering 52 percent of the earth's surface. Zedalis is the primary official responsible for ensuring smooth transitions. In an article she authored about the integration, she wrote, "Adaption takes time and we will not accomplish everything in one year. … By September 30, 2012, all functions will have been performed at least once, which will allow us to review, revise and prepare for FY 2013 execution."
Before Sept. 30, 2011, garrisons in Korea made up an independent region within IMCOM. The operation known as the Pacific-Korea Integration successfully integrated IMCOM-Korea into IMCOM-Pacific, headquartered at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. IMCOM-Korea was headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, where its deactivation ceremony was held.