December 05, 2014 10:36
The next commander of the U.S. Pacific Command has expressed concerns about the costs of relocating U.S. Forces Korea headquarters further south away from the border.
In written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services ahead of a confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Admiral Harry Harris said the relocation costs under the Land Partnership Plan remain a concern given the current fiscal environment.
The U.S. defense budget could suffer further cuts in case the White House is faced with another sequester in the fiscal year 2016.
Under the relocation plan, the USFK is to return a total of 170 million sq.m of land, or 64 percent of all granted areas, to the Korean government. That includes 34 bases measuring 40 million sq.m and three training grounds measuring 130 million sq.m scattered across the country.
Korea will bear the costs of building alternative facilities for the USFK to replace its existing bases that Seoul wants to move, and buy land for them. But the U.S. will bear the construction costs for facilities it wants to relocate.
A new headquarters is already being built in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
But Harris, adding to a growing chorus of second thoughts about the relocation plan from Washington, appeared to suggest that the expense sharing should be renegotiated, signaling trouble for an already monumentally expensive project.
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