USFK Beefs Up Combat Capability

The U.S. Forces Korea wants to add a mechanized infantry battalion equipped with tanks and armored infantry fighting vehicles to the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division this year.

Already last year, the U.S. redeployed a chemical battalion and an attack reconnaissance battalion to Korea.

A two-star deputy operations commander has joined the 8th U.S. Army headquarters, which had been mainly in charge of personnel services but was restructured as a combat command.

The measures aim at improving the USFK's combat capabilities amid uncertainties over North Korea.

"The USFK will apparently add a battalion armed with state-of-the-art M1A2 tanks and M2A3 armored infantry fighting vehicles to the 1st Brigade of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division this year," a military source said Monday.

The 1st Brigade has been the main combat force here since the 2nd Brigade was relocated to Iraq in 2004.

In April last year, the USFK redeployed the 23rd Chemical Battalion here, which is tasked with removing biological and chemical weapons in a war, nine years after it was pulled out.

Last October, it also redeployed the attack reconnaissance battalion of the 6th Cavalry Regiment, which has about 30 OH-58D armed choppers. It had been withdrawn five years earlier.

The moves come despite drastic cuts to the U.S. defense budget.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 07, 2014 09:45 KST