Morale: A Room Of Your Own


November 27,2008: One good thing about the reduction in American troops overseas, is that the ones left behind have more living space. Now troops are being offered large private rooms, or even apartments, to live in.

South Korea, for example, saw the number of U.S. troops there  go from 330,000 in 1953 to 33,000 today. Actually, there were about 60,000 in the 1960s and 40,000 at the end of the Cold War. But a lot of new troop housing was put up in the 1950s and 60s, and that stuff was well maintained. A lot of it is still around. Currently there is only one U.S. combat brigade in South Korea. During the 1960s, there were six. Most of the U.S. troops there now are army support units, air force personnel and some sailors and marines. 

The bottom line is that up to half the living quarters are empty in some bases, and now that troops can bring their families to South Korea (and will be stuck there for three years as a result) more personnel will be moving out of the barracks. So commanders are studying the logistics of letting troops disperse to those nearby bases where there are empty accommodations. South Korea is unique in that American troops always lived in dozens of small bases. Thus one base today may be full, while ten kilometers away, another base has half its living quarters empty. Currently most troops are living two to a room. But with all the gear troops accumulate (flat screen TVs, PCs, and civilian clothing), it can get cramped. The army also issues troops more gear, and the soldiers have to store it in their living quarters. If commanders can be satisfied that there will be no transportation problems for troops living dispersed (and they already do it when living off base back in the states), the shift to private rooms will proceed.


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