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Army Offers Bonuses for Troops in S. Korea

March 14, 2004

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ The U.S. Army will offer monthly bonuses to American soldiers in South Korea for extending tours of duty, according to a statement.

The new incentive program comes as the U.S. military juggles operations in Iraq and Afghanistan requiring routine injections of troops from elsewhere.

Washington also is trying to upgrade its forces in South Korea as part of a global realignment that comes amid heightened concern over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Soldiers who sign on for another year of duty in the South will get an extra $300 a month, the 8th U.S. Army said in a statement released Friday. American soldiers typically serve one year in South Korea.

``We want to keep more of our extremely well-trained soldiers on the peninsula,″ 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles Campbell said. ``Retaining more of that talent in theater for a longer period of time enhances our ability to deter aggression and support peace and stability on the peninsula.″

The U.S. forces in Iraq are about halfway through the biggest troop rotation in their history, pulling out 130,000 troops _ some of whom have been there since the March 2003 invasion.

The U.S. military in South Korea also is being reshuffled, with plans to leave its sprawling Yongsan Base in downtown Seoul and relocate to sites further south of the capital.

The U.S. military posts about 37,000 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea’s 1.1 million-member military is the world’s fifth largest, and U.S. military officials say about 70 percent of the communist forces are arrayed along the heavily fortified no man’s land dividing the Korean Peninsula.

Update hourly