Deployment to South Korea: Matt's Memo

Fort Drum, home to the 10th Mountain Division, is in the running to also be a missile defense site

Soon soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division will be flying their Apache Longbow helicopters in the area of the 38th parallel. That's the familiar line of military demarcation dividing what we know as South Korea and North Korea. The official name for the American ally is the Republic of Korea. Ten or twenty years ago duty on that peninsula would have been viewed much differently than what this group will face.

The 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade held a Case Closing Ceremony send off on post this afternoon. The dedicated service members were raring for deployment, prepared to take on whatever mission is required. The rising tensions between N. Korean leader Kim Jung-Un and President Trump are raising eyebrows as to what will happen next. This squadron could be part of a range of military options the American President continues to stress are on the table.

It's one thing to stand watch or fly support over the 4 km demilitarized zone. It's another to enter air space to the north and engage with an enemy. Certainly training for these skilled pilots and support teams prepares them for all eventualities. But, the transglobal flight to Seoul will surely give time to consider all that could transpire during their nine month tour.

As the back and forth verbal volleys continue between leaders there are corresponding military maneuvers. On one side testing of rockets and the potential to carry a ballistic missile. On the other side shifting of military assets to protect United States interests and allies such as Japan and Guam.

Nearly twenty years ago I sat in a General's office at Camp Eagle, Tuzla, Bosnia. We talked about the role of the 10th Mountain Division in Eastern Europe as that lengthy war wound down. He told me there was no way of knowing where the next area of conflict or need will be. A couple years later 9/11 shifted the focus to Afghanistan and then back to Iraq. South Korea remained dry, but relatively easy duty for soldiers assigned there. Not anymore.

We wish our military neighbors well as they travel from the Watertown area to the other side of the world. We are already watching daily developments in diplomacy. Early next year South Korea hosts the Winter Olympic games. This Aviation Brigade will be part of the group working to keep the nation secure as the world turns its attention to one end of the peninsula while at the other end an unpredictable leader considers how much he wants to flex his muscle.

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