U.S. troops serving one year tours
in South Korea will now be there three years, and can bring their families with
them. For over half a century, American troops in South Korea were serving what
was known as an "unaccompanied" (by family) tour. More colloquially, it was
called a "hardship tour," but it was only rough on the married troops. The
single guys, and many of the married ones, took advantage of the cheap booze
and inexpensive prostitutes to take the edge off the "hardship." But in the
last three decades, South Korea has turned into a first world economy, with all
the amenities that Americans take for granted. The hookers are not only more
expensive, but increasingly illegal.
same time, the U.S. forces in South Korea have shrunk from over 100,000 troops,
to under 30,000. These days, the well equipped South Korea forces are believed
capable of handling any invasion from the north. At the same time, communist
North Korea has suffered famine and economic collapse since the end of the Cold
War in 1991, and the end of Russian and Chinese subsidies that propped up the
mismanaged economy. The North Korean military has, especially in the last
decade, declined from lack of fuel for training and money for new equipment.
The North Koreans are still a threat, but South Korea is more worried about the
human and fiscal fallout from a collapse of the North Korean government, and a
reunification of Korea. That chaos will be paid for by the newly affluent
taxpayers of South Korea, and the policed initially by South Korean troops. The
small American force will, as always, be there mainly to guarantee U.S. reinforcements
if the Chinese march into North Korea.