Advanced Missile Defense Coming to Korea

NK-Submarine-Missile-Launch
(Photo from Sputnik News website)

The peace that exists on the Korean Peninsula continues to be a precarious one based on the Armistice Agreement signed in 1953 ending the combat operations of the Korean War. Over the years there have been many provocations that have resulted in both military and civilian deaths and drawing observers to the edge of their seats.

With the recent missile tests that North Korea has engaged in, it has become necessary for the Republic of Korea (ROK, commonly referred to as South Korea) and those who assist in protecting its people to step up their defensive posture. United States Forces Korea (USFK) has recently announced the culmination of discussions between the ROK and U.S.A. resulting in the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system onto South Korean territory.

North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)
North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)

Other countries have already voiced their disapproval over the deployment of THAAD to Korea (not surprisingly, Russia, China and North Korea) and with the way nation-level thugs often respond to defensive measures as though they were offensive, I’m glad that my tour of duty in Korea is coming to an end, though I remain concerned for the Korean friends I have made here, and all of those who live under the continued specter of war. According to the U.S. Pacific Command’s Facebook page:

North Korea’s nuclear test and multiple ballistic missile tests, including the recent intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launches, highlight the grave threat that North Korea poses to the security and stability of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the entire Asia-Pacific region.

In response to the evolving threat posed by North Korea, the United States and the ROK have been conducting formal consultations regarding the feasibility of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery operated by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) since early February, as a measure to improve the missile defense posture of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

Based on these consultations, the ROK and the United States made an Alliance decision to deploy THAAD to USFK as a defensive measure to ensure the security of the ROK and its people, and to protect Alliance military forces from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats.

Through the past months of review, the ROK-U.S. Joint Working Group confirmed the military effectiveness of THAAD on the Korean Peninsula and is in the final stage of preparing its recommendation for both the ROK Minister of National Defense and the U.S. Secretary of Defense regarding the optimal site in the Republic of Korea for the system’s effectiveness and for environmental, health, and safety requirements.

The ROK and the United States are working closely to ensure the swift deployment of THAAD and will develop specific operational procedures.

When the THAAD system is deployed to the Korean Peninsula, it will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third party nations. The THAAD deployment will contribute to a layered missile defense that will enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.1

And here’s the official press release from USFK:

July 8, 2016 — YONGSAN GARRISON, SEOUL, Republic of Korea – The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States of America (U.S.) agreed today to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to the Republic of Korea, in response to North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missile technology in contravention of six United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

This Alliance decision was recommended by ROK Minister of Defense Han, Min Gu and Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea commander, and was approved by the ROK and U.S. governments.

“This is an important ROK-U.S. decision,” said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea commander. “North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction require the Alliance to take this prudent, protective measure to bolster our layered and effective missile defense.”

The decision to deploy THAAD underscores the ironclad commitment of the United States to defend the Republic of Korea. THAAD will be focused solely on North Korea and will contribute to a layered missile defense that would enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.

This announcement follows the February 7, 2016, announcement that the ROK and U.S. had begun formal consultations regarding improvements to the Alliance missile defense posture, specifically the viability of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system operated by U.S. Forces Korea.2

This is an illustration of how THAAD and the current Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems will work:

 Ãà»çÇÏ´Â ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀå (¼­¿ï=¿¬ÇÕ´º½º) ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀåÀÌ 14ÀÏ ¼­¿ï Àá½Ç ·Ôµ¥È£ÅÚ¿¡¼­ ¿­¸° ÇÑÀÏ ±¹±³Á¤»óÈ­ 50Áֳ⠱â³ä¡®ÇÑÀÏ ¿ìÈ£ °ü±¤ ±³·ùÀÇ ¹ã¡¯Çà»ç¿¡¼­ Ãà»ç¸¦ ÇÏ°í ÀÖ´Ù. 2015.2.14 <> photo@yna.co.kr/2015-02-14 23:40:23/
(Graphic from The Korea Herald website)

.

There are many places around the world that need our prayer, places where people not only live under the risk of armed conflict, but daily their citizens are being persecuted, tortured or killed. Most of us can’t go into those areas to help, but as believers we can pray for them. Pray that evil will not triumph. Pray that the faith of believers will remain strong under the most brutal trials. Pray that Jesus will return soon to put an end to Satan’s reign over the hearts of so many who cause terror in our world today.

.

.

.

U.S. Pacific Command Facebook page

U.S. Forces Korea webpage

.

.

Sunday Chapel (x2)

Since the service I was pastoring on post has ended due to the U.S. military moves to Camp Humphreys (more on the final service can be found here), I’ve been able to attend other worship services. Last week I was at Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene north of Seoul. This week I attended two services: the “Traditional Protestant” service at the hospital chapel and the Episcopal service, also at the hospital chapel.

Traditional Protestant Service

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
One of the Traditional Protestant Congregation members welcoming everyone to worship (he also offered the prayer)

The Traditional Protestant service is the one most of the congregation from my service at Memorial Chapel chose to attend. There were 20 of them there today, that’s about half of my previous congregation and almost half of the attendance today. As I walked in, it felt like a reunion as many from my congregation greeted me as though it had been months or years since they last saw me, even though it had just been two weeks. It was a great feeling!

The makeup of this congregation caused me to think about what has gone on in the United States over the past couple of weeks. There was an almost even mixture of white Americans, black Americans, Korean Americans and Korean nationals. It was not a surprise that everyone got along -contrary to what you see on T.V.- since we’re all part of the family of God. The time of worship and fellowship was reminiscent of a family gathering of siblings and cousins. We’re not all the same, but we have a common purpose: to love, serve and worship God, our common creator and Savior.

As it turned out, the pastor of the congregation was away, so there was a visiting chaplain there (Chaplain Yoo, the 65th Medical Brigade Chaplain). He shared a message from Jabez’s prayer about praying boldly and earnestly to our God who loves and cares for us. He also sang a song as part of his sermon-a tool I’m not gifted to be able to do! The rest of the service was a customary traditional service with hymns, prayer and an offering. Communion is just celebrated twice a month in this congregation, which will take some getting use for my congregation since we were accustomed to celebrating it every Sunday. It was, however, a good service, with familiar elements making the presence of God felt and acknowledged.

.

Episcopal Service

Even when I was pastoring the Liturgical Service at Memorial Chapel, when I got away in time I would often attend the Episcopal service at the hospital chapel.  I have filled in and preached there before, as has the Episcopal chaplain for my service. I enjoy the liturgy and sacramental emphasis of the service and always leave spiritually nourished. Not being sure if I would be able to attend next week (my last Sunday in Korea) I stayed to attend it after the Traditional Protestant service.

Yongsan Episcopal Service
Chaplain Budez, the Episcopal Chaplain, preaching from the Parable of the Good Samaritan

The chaplain preached from the Gospel Lectionary lesson for this Sunday, the parable of the Good Samaritan, tying in the tragic events of the last couple of weeks in the U.S. This service, being a “flagged” Episcopal service, followed the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) so included all of the elements normally part of a liturgical or sacramental service, including the celebration of communion.

Yongsan Episcopal Service
Chaplain Budez preparing to serve Communion

The Episcopal service has a small choir of 3 which, along with the organist, greatly contributes to the service. Members of the congregation participate not only in the responsive readings and prayers, but also as Scripture readers and prayer leaders. Since it is a specific denominational service, it is smaller, but the size also lends itself to a family feel with a strong sense of community.

Yongsan Episcopal Service
Me and Chaplain Budez, the Episcopal chaplain and friend.

I always enjoy the service when I attend and today was no exception. I’ve appreciated the ministry and friendship of Chaplain Budez as we have shared a common liturgy in our worship services and a strong desire for a “sacramental” worship service in the Yongsan community.

Just for fun, here’s a short video of part of the Communion liturgy from the Episcopal service. Sorry for the poor quality, but it will at least give you a glimpse of this part of the service:

 

.

.

.

 

Company Change of Command

It’s not often that the Brigade Chaplain prays at a company-level Change of Command ceremony (except for the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company), but one of the brigade’s battalions  is currently without a chaplain, so I was called on to offer the prayer. Company Change of Command ceremonies are enjoyable for me as I watch young captains hand over -or take on- command often for the first time. They have much of their Army careers still ahead of them, so it’s an honor to pray for God to bless and help them to be courageous, honorable and Soldiers of integrity.

Here are a few pictures from the ceremony, though it’s not often when there’s a picture of the chaplain praying. I’m not sure if that’s because the photographer pauses to pray so doesn’t take a picture or because the prayer is just peripheral to the main event.

B-Co Change of Command
The Battalion Commander addressing the attendees (you can see me sitting to the right, having already prayed)
B-Co Change of Command
The outgoing commander addressing his troops and the guests at the ceremony (there I am again)
B-Co Change of Command
The incoming commander addressing his company, and the guests
B-Co Change of Command
The new commander taking charge of his troops
B-Co Change of Command
The new commander at the front of the formation of his new command

.

.

.

Photos from the 719th MI BN Facebook page.

.

.

The Sin of Patriotism?

american-and-christian-flags1It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day for the United States of America. Here in Korea, you wouldn’t know it from any other day (unless, of course, you’re on a U.S. military installation). But with the benefit of the Internet, there’s no escaping it…though personally I wouldn’t want to. I celebrate with millions of other Americans our hard-won independence from Great Britain 240 years ago.

Much of what I’m seeing in my Facebook feed, however, is not a positive response to it being the 4th of July. I’m not judging, but from where I sit, many of those posters seem to be speaking from their holier-than-thou ivory towers to us lowly patriotic souls who are in need of their superior spiritual insight and understanding of the mind of God. Let me explain:

First, they condemn our fight for independence as contrary to the scriptural mandate to be obedient to the powers in place over us as being instituted by God. They view the situation on the American continent of the 18th century through 21st century glasses, presuming to understand the situation our political forefathers and mothers experienced better than those who were living it.

Continue reading original post at my personal blog site . . .

.

.

.

Closing Down a Worship Service

Wherever a chaplain is assigned, in addition to his/her assigned duties, they are expected to also be involved in religious support to the garrison where they’re located. Often this means being part of one of the on-post worship services. This has been the case for me while in Yongsan, South Korea. I have been the pastor of the Traditional Protestant Congregation who worshiped at Memorial Chapel on Main Post, for the year that I’ve been in Korea.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The final group photo of the congregation taken on our last Sunday together as a congregation

I’ve mentioned before about the movement of U.S. forces from all over Korea to USAG Humphreys near Pyeongtek. This is beginning to impact religious support at USGA Yongsan as there are fewer chaplains to support the multiple worship services. Today (26 June 2016), this impact became real for the congregation I have been pastoring as we celebrated the final service of this congregation which has been active in Yongsan for over 25 years. Beginning next week, the attendees will begin attending one of the other remaining services on post.

Here are a few pictures of the final service and the fellowship brunch we enjoyed together at Greenstreet at Dragon Hill Lodge following the service.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Richard always opens our service with announcements and birthday/anniversary greetings.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Passing the Peace
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The Scripture being read by one of the congregation members who has attended for 15 years.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The choir is unbelievable. The choir director is a paid contractor who studied in the U.S. Many choir members come just to work with him.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Dr. Rev. Lee studied in the U.S. and has been singing for the congregation for 10 years.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Our musician (at the piano) is also a paid contractor. She’s great on both the piano and the organ.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
On this last Sunday, we celebrated Communion by Intinction.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The Parish Advisory Council (PAC) gave a gift to some of the congregation who volunteered in different capacities.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The mug the PAC gave chapel volunteers (and me).
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Angel first came to Korea to fight in the Korean War. Since he’s been back (near the beginning of the congregation over 25 years ago) he has been serving the congregation in many ways.

.

After the service we went to one of the restaurants at the Dragon Hill Lodge on post (Greenstreet) and enjoyed the Brunch Buffet:

IMG_20160626_112956360 IMG_20160626_113247220 IMG_20160626_114140634 IMG_20160626_114229882 IMG_20160626_114856648

.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
This couple has been part of the congregation for about 15 years. They’re there nearly every Sunday!
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
This couple has attended for about 10 years. The man was also a regular usher.

.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The congregation gave me this plaque in appreciation for leading the congregation for the past year (I’ll replace the picture of the congregation with the one we took today).
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
I had these bookmarks made for everyone in attendance at our final service.

.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
I was surprised at how much the congregation touched me in just a year. Here’s the “farewell” letter I put in the bulletin.

.

Here are some other pictures of Memorial Chapel where the Traditional Protestant  Congregation has worshiped for over 25 years:

Yongsan Memorial Chapel
Here’s an artist’s drawing of Memorial Chapel on USAG Yongsan

Yongsan Memorial Chapel

Yongsan Memorial Chapel

Yongsan Memorial Chapel

Yongsan Memorial Capel
The front of Memorial Chapel on USAG Yongsan

Here’s a short video showing the sanctuary changing from Catholic to Protestant worship

.

.

Camp Humphreys, Korea

As a chaplain, when I visit a new post, the first things I like to visit are the chapels, followed by chaplain’s offices and work areas, then memorials and cemeteries, finally historical points of interest…that is, of course, after I visit my chaplains or accomplish the mission I’m there for. I state that first, to explain why the majority of pictures I’m going to share in this post are of those things.

Humphreys-CW2-Humphreys Memorial Plaque-croppedCamp Humphreys or United States Army Garrison (USAG) Humphreys, is a U.S. Army post near Pyeongtaek, beside Anjeong-ri. Humphreys is about 55 miles Southwest of Seoul (at least an hour and a half drive depending on traffic). What is now Camp Humphreys began as Pyeongteak Airfield in 1919 by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea. The Air Force rebuilt it during the Korean War and renamed it K-6, then in 1962 it was renamed Camp Humphreys in honor of CW2 Benjamin K. Humphreys of the 6th Transporation Company (Light Helicopter). Humphreys was killed in a helicopter accident on 13 November 1961 near Osan-Ni, Kyung-Gi Do, Korea. Camp Humphreys is home to Desiderio Army Airfield, said to be the busiest Army airfield in Asia.

Camp Humphreys is rapidly growing since it has been chosen as the new home for most of the nearly 30,000 U.S. Army troops in South Korea to include the headquarters of United States Forces Korea (USFK). By the time the move is complete, Camp Humphreys will spread over 3500 acres.

.

Chapels

When building is complete, there will be a total of four chapels on Camp Humphreys. Here is a look at what’s been built so far and what is coming:

Camp Humphreys Main Post Chapel
Artist’s conception of the mid-size chapel being built in the Main Post area of Camp Humphreys. It is scheduled to be complete by December 2016 and will be called Freedom Family Life Chapel.

.

Camp Humphreys Troop Chapel
When construction is complete there will be two of these troop chapels on Camp Humphreys. This one is expected to be named Pacific Victors Chapel, the other Indian Head Chapel.
Camp Humphreys Troop Chapel
Inside of one of the Troop Chapels on Camp Humphreys

.

Camp Humphreys Chapel
This is what will be the main chapel on post when complete in August 2016. It’s located across the street from the Elementary School and is expected to be named Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel.

.

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park sits on a hill and covers about 42,900 square meters. It includes several picnic pavilions, a disc golf course, the USAG Humphreys Memorial Park and trails and walkways through a wooded area. Beacon Hill is also a protected area, having “potential buried cultural resources” from after the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). According to the sign on the hill:

The Beacon Hill area shall be preserved due to the presence of buried cultural resources. Several artifacts, such as a piece of bluish-gray celadon and a piece of white celadon, were detected at the ground surface. Also, many historical graves were scattered throughout an area 42,900 square meters (m2). Other cultural resources may be buried within the area that have so far [not] been unearthed. Developing the area should be minimized as much as possible…

Camp Humphreys Beacon Hill Park
The picnic pavilions in Beacon Hill Park were built in 1989 by 22nd KSC CO.
Camp Humphreys Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park has a nice wooded area.
USAG Humphreys Memorial Park
Located in Beacon Hill Part is the USAG Humphreys Memorial Park.

.

Various Buildings

Even with over 3500 acres, space is at a premium as they build sufficient infrastructure and headquarters for the influx of troops and family members to Camp Humphreys. Many areas resemble the cities of Korea with high rise buildings and large above and below ground parking garages. Here are a few pictures of some of the buildings being built or already occupied on Camp Humphreys.

Camp Humphreys Family Housing
One of the family housing complexes. This is a cluster of three semi-high rises with underground parking.

.

Camp Humphreys Barracks
Some of the semi-high rise barracks buildings
Camp Humphreys High Rise Barracks
A few more of the semi-high rise barracks buildings
Camp Humphreys Super Gym
The new Fitness Center, locally known as the “Super Gym.”
Camp Humphreys Picnic Pavilions
Picnic Pavilions outside of the Super Gym.

.

BDE HQ Building
This building complex will be my new BDE HQ once completed. The taller building is for the BDE, the smaller one in front will be home to two of the BNs.

.

Camp Humphreys HQ
Another one of the HQ buildings being built on Camp Humphreys…there’s a whole row of them!

.

Camp Humphreys HQ
Another HQ on “Headquarters Row”

.

Morning Calm Conference Center
In the distance is the Morning Calm Conference Center. Beside it is being built a large expansion of Humphreys Lodge.

.

Army Aviation

As mentioned above, Desiderio Army Airfield is the busiest Army airfield in Asia. Here are a few unclassified pictures of Army aircraft.

Camp Humphreys
A couple of Kiowa Warriors
Camp Humphreys Chinooks
A group of Chinook helicopters parked on the airfield
Camp Humphreys Army Aviation
One of the fixed-wing planes operated by one of my BNs.
Camp Humphreys Army Aviation
A Kiowa Warrior taking off from the airfield.
Camp Humphreys Cobra
A mounted attack helicopter in front of a BN of the 2nd CAB.
Camp Humphreys helicopter
Another helicopter mounted in front of BN HQs of the 2nd CAB.

.

Here’s a video produced by USAG Humphreys which shows much of Camp Humphreys from the air:

.

There is still a lot of building taking place on Camp Humphreys, as well as in Pyeongtaek, which will provide more for Soldiers and families to do and make life both comfortable and enjoyable. Additionally, a fast-train line is being added to Pyeongtaek which will make travel to Seoul a lot quicker, providing even better access to more of what Korea has to offer.

It will be interesting to see Camp Humphreys in a few years when the transformation is complete.

.

.

.

BDE UMT Hail & Farewell

An Army tradition that nearly every officer and NCO is familiar with is the “Hail & Farewell.” Hail & Farewells”  are informal gatherings, often at a restaurant, where Soldiers new to the unit are hailed and Soldiers departing the unit are farewelled. Along with food, Hail and Farewells often include games of sorts or other fun activities. Units usually do them regularly, spaced to ensure everyone is hailed and/or farewelled as they come or before they go.

At most posts, installation Unit Ministry Teams (UMT) also have regular Hail & Farewells for Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants (and their families). Occasionally, brigade UMTs also have Hail & Farewells, though they’re needed less often.

My brigade has two chaplains, a KATUSA and myself preparing to leave so we had a BDE UMT Hail & Farewell. We wanted to include the families, but didn’t want it to be a stressful time for the parents, so reserved a picnic pavillion by the “Super Gym” at Camp Humphreys. Here are some pictures of our time together:

BDE Hail and Farewell
As the BDE chaplain, I took the opportunity to share my appreciation to the chaplains, chaplain assistants and family members for all they do.
Eric is one of the chaplains leaving. I gave as a farewell gift a mounted Beomjong, since a big part of what we did together as a BDE UMT was visit the Hwaseong Fortress, which features prominently one of these bells.
Eric is one of the chaplains leaving. I gave as a farewell gift a mounted Beomjong, since a big part of what we did together as a BDE UMT was visit the Hwaseong Fortress, which features prominently one of these bells. There was a plaque on it with his name, dates of service to the BDE and a message of appreciation.
BDE Hail and Farewell
I also gave a bell with plaque to Maya, who is also leaving soon.
BDE Hail and Farewell
The whole crew, though since Brian isn’t leaving soon, he didn’t get a bell!
BDE Hail and Farewell
On the left is a bell like the one I gave my chaplains. On the right is the one they gave me. The small pink spoon tied to the left column is from Baskin Robbins. They did that because my custom on our Suwon trips was to get a Strawberry Blast.
Chaplain Corps Crest
I also gave a vintage Chaplain Corps crest to each of my chaplains.
BDE Hail and Farewell
Brian and Amiee brought smoked brisket they prepared themselves. Delicious!
BDE Hail and Farewell
Each family brought something good, which was tough for those who are leaving, with few dishes and dwindling foodstuffs!
BDE Hail and Farewell
Brian and Chris were ready with a tune!
BDE Hail and Farewell
Here’s the BDE Unit Ministry Team, chaplains, chaplain assistants and KATUSAs (though my KATUSA is missing).
BDE Hail and Farewell
Here we all are, families and all (though my family is back in the States).

.

.

.