Not in the Cards

While US Forces Korea is undergoing a multiyear force restructuring on the Korean Peninsula, there will be no expansion of tour normalization beyond the current authorization for up to 4,645 command-sponsored military families to reside there, said Army Gen. James Thurman, USFK commander. More families would bring additional requirements and costs and are “unaffordable” under the current fiscal environment, he told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “I do not think . . . that is feasible,” he said. Thurman said the most recent defense authorization act set the level of sponsored families at 4,645. Today, there are some 3,800 families that are command sponsored. “We have not achieved the 4,645 as of yet,” he said. Thurman said “the biggest issue” he faces is “the constant turnover of personnel, primarily Army.” With the one-year assignments on the peninsula, there are about 600 to 700 personnel rotating out each month, mostly lower enlisted grade soldiers, he explained. Despite the cap on sponsored families and frequent turnover, “we have a well-stated mission and I have not seen a decline in any morale issues,” he said. (Thurman’s prepared statement)