Responding to economic trends of
the last few decades, U.S. military commanders in South Korea are recommending
that South Korea no longer be considered a "hardship tour." Since the 1950s,
troops sent to Europe stayed there for up to three years, and could bring their
families with them. In other words, duty in Europe was treated like a transfer
from one base in the United States, to another.
But South Korea was considered too poor and alien
for military families. The rough living conditions were considered so onerous
that troops should only have to endure them for 12 months at a time. But South
Korea has not been rough duty for over
two decades. For example, currently there are over 2,000 military families in
South Korea, having come on their own, without any assistance from the
military. However, these families do not have access to any military
facilities, like cheaper stores (post exchanges) on bases. The proposed policy
would treat service in South Korea the same way it has always been in Europe.
That would mean three year tours and no hardship pay. South Korea is now more
prosperous than most of Europe was in the 1960s. Many South Koreans speak
English, South Korean students are generally anti-American, the beer is pretty
good and the hookers are expensive. Not much different from Europe. By bringing
more families over, and keeping troops there for three years, the higher
transportation costs for the one year tours would be lowered, and the troops
would get to know Korea, and Koreans, better.