The report, submitted July 15 to several military affairs congressional committees, says work authorized under the 2002 U.S.-South Korean Land Partnership Plan (LLP) and set to continue through 2011 relies on unclear troop deployments and uncertain funding sources in both countries.
GAO points out that $1 billion in current and planned work at one key site, Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul, and other bases nearby, "has recently been put on hold, canceled or redirected." Affected projects in Yongsan alone included new apartment high-rises, a hospital, sports complex, mini mall and an overpass between the bases northern and southern areas, says GAO. This affects $218 million of work budgeted for fiscal 2004.
Obsolete and rundown bases in South Korea, dating back to the 1950s conflict, has hampered deployment in recent years, says GAO. Incountry posting is considered "to be the worst in the Dept. of Defense," the report states. About 37,000 troops are now stationed there in 41 installations and 54 smaller sites, but 90% are without families. The LLP was designed to accelerate new infrastructure development and relocate bases away from Seoul and other cities that now encroach on local populations and have generated tensions.
GAO says the Pentagon is now "reassessing future overseas basing requirements" and is likely to concentrate troops in fewer locations south of Seoul, rather than north of the city. U.S. and South Korea are set to finalize troop realignments this fall, says GAO.
Anticipated funding sources also remain questionable, according to the report. While DOD is hoping to leverage private South Korean funding sources to pay for $900 million in anticipated new family housing, projected revenue to the U.S. from land sales to Koreans are unclear. GAO notes, for example, that if the Yongsan base is used "for municipal purposes," its property cannot be resold.
Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Richard P. Lawless says DOD is "reassessing" planned construction and future master plans.