Combat Communications Squadron to move to Guam

Editor's note: This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 17, 2006, to correct that in mid-2004, the United States and South Korea, not North Korea, agreed to the phased withdrawal of 12,500 U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The 607th Combat Communications Squadron will leave in the coming weeks and move equipment and personnel to Guam, an Air Force official said today.

As part of the 607th Air Support Operations Group based at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, the squadron is responsible for rapid mobile communications deployment for wartime contingencies or natural disasters in the entire Korea area of operations.

“That leaves us short now of a combat [communications] capability that can go anywhere within the theater,” Col. Vincent Valdespino, director of communications and information at Pacific Air Forces headquarters, told an audience at the Air Force Information Technology Conference at the Auburn University campus.

A limited presence will remain to maintain the Korean Air Operations Center in Osan. But overall command, control and communications functions will be moved to the United States and its territories in the next few years, he said.

About 150 members of the 607th combat communications team will be relocated to Guam, beginning this year. A new squad will be deployed there with its completion expected in 2009. Military construction and operations and maintenance funding has already been secured, Valdespino said.

The move is part of an overall reorientation of command and control in the Pacific theater. Known as the strategic triangle concept, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam will form the base of operations for Pacific Command. The strategy aims to position critical resources on U.S.-controlled soil, while also allowing forces to be deployed to Asia or to the United States to assist in homeland defense missions.

Guam will receive the largest amount of equipment as part of this initiative. The island is set to host continuous, permanent Stryker, tanker, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance presence in the form of Global Hawk long-range unmanned aerial vehicles.

The move is also part of an overall decrease of U.S. forces in South Korea. In mid-2004, the United States and South Korea agreed to the phased withdrawal of 12,500 U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula to be completed by 2008.

President Bush has pledged to move 70,000 U.S. service members and 100,000 family members and civilian employees to the United States in the next decade.

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