Maj. Gen. Kendall Cox, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deputy commanding general for military and international operations, made a three-day trip to the Republic of Korea Jan. 9-11.
During the visit, Cox met with U.S. military officials, engineering Soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division, members of Far East District staff, and toured construction projects at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys.
Cox told district personnel that his message to U.S. Forces Korea leadership about the completion of the Yongsan Relocation and Land Partnership Plans was simple: “You need those facilities, and you’ve got the right people doing it, and we’ll make sure it gets done,” he said.
He explained that when he met with Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the United Nations Command/Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea, Thurman reminded him of his top priority for U.S. military forces on the peninsula: the ability to “fight tonight” if needed.
“Everyone in this room is not responsible for ‘fighting tonight,’” said Cox to the handful of military members and dozens of Korean and American civilian personnel assembled at the district headquarters in the Dongdaemun area of Seoul. “But everyone in this room is responsible for ensuring that those who will have that capacity and capability to do so.
“And he made that very clear to me as he looked across the table and said ‘understand my number one priority, and understand your responsibility to support that,’” Cox said.
“We all hope and pray here that this will never come to fruition,” Cox told the district, “but we have to have that capability.”
Cox also told the district personnel the importance of their work in Korea as part of the larger Corps of Engineers mission.
“Every time I come I never cease to be amazed: amazed at the amount of things you’re doing with such a small organization,” he said. “What you accomplish, given the capabilities and expertise that you have, is not replicated anywhere within the Corps of Engineers.”
Only two other Corps of Engineers districts are permanently headquartered outside of the United States. Two others are operating in Afghanistan.
The Far East District has about 500 employees on U.S. military facilities over the Republic of Korea. Responsible for billions of dollars worth of construction projects, the district has been, and will be, working on $10.7 billion worth of projects in the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys area over the coming three years alone.