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Korean Troops End 6-year Mission in Afghanistan

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Korean Troops End 6-year Mission in Afghanistan

Date: December 14, 2007

Soldiers from the Dongui (medical) and Dasa (engineering) units, return home early Friday (Dec. 14). Soldiers from those units have been assisting with reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan for the past six years. Korea withdrew all of its troops from Afghanistan Friday (Dec. 14), ending its six-year military presence in the war-ravaged Islamic country as part of a U.S-led coalition force. Korea sent hundreds of troops to Afghanistan in late 2001 after the U.S. ousted the Taliban fundamental Islamic regime because the Taliban was linked to a group that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S. Despite a U.S. request, the Seoul government did not extend the stay of about 50 medics of the Dongui unit and 150 engineers of the Dasan unit in the central Asian state. Korea instead plans to continue its contribution to stabilize Afghanistan through a civilian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), composed of 20 to 30 government officials, civilian medical staff and vocational training experts. About 200 Korean troops returned home Friday morning to much fanfare but also remembering the death of a comrade killed in an attack early this year. Army Sgt. Yoon Jang-ho was killed in a bomb attack at the main gate of a U.S. military base in Bagram, some 80 km north of Kabul, on Feb. 27. In July, 23 Korean aid workers were kidnapped by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Two of them were executed, while the others were freed after more than 40 days of captivity. The Dasan Unit had played a pivotal role in construction at the U.S. military base in Bagram, including paving the runway and expanding major roads, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dongui has also provided medical services to about 259,000 people, a daily average of about 180, it added. As a chartered plane carrying the soldiers arrived at a military airport south of Seoul, more than 250 trainees at the Army administration school waved small Korean flags while a military band played martial music. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Park Heung-ryul shook hands with the returning soldiers. "Now is a moment long to be remembered in history," Park said.

Col. Jeong Jang-soo, commander of the Dasan unit, said he was so happy to return home after a successful mission.

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