By Ashley Rowland
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
SEOUL — A U.S.-based cavalry battalion, complete with tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, has arrived in South Korea for a nine-month rotational deployment.
In a nod to the sensitivities on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone to changes in the U.S. force posture, officials are calling the additions only for defense and have been hesitant to discuss how the deployment affects the actual American troop strength in South Korea.
A 2nd Infantry Division statement described the deployment as a “strictly defensive” movement that will increase readiness and strengthen U.S. and South Korean capabilities.
“The addition of a Combined Arms Battalion makes 2ID a more agile and lethal force more capable of deterring aggression and defending the Republic of Korea if called upon,” it said.
The battalion, commanded by a lieutenant colonel, includes a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, two companies of mechanized infantry, two companies of armor and a forward support company.
The approximately 800 members of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas, arrived Wednesday at Osan Air Base before traveling to Camps Hovey and Stanley, both north of Seoul.
The unit brings with it about 40 M1A2 Abrams tanks and 40 M2A3 Bradleys, which will remain in Korea for follow-on rotations.
Earlier this month, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren described the rotational deployment as a long-planned “plus-up” that is part of the U.S. military and diplomatic rebalance to Asia.
“This gives the commanders in Korea an additional capability — two companies of tanks, two companies of Bradleys,” he said.
The U.S. military’s use of rotational forces in South Korea appears to be increasing.