Morale: South Korea Becomes The New Europe


June 11,2008: 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.

At the 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.


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