The U.S. military in South Korea said Friday it will again be unable this year to normalize tours of its troops here where more troops will be accompanied by their family members.
The U.S. military has been trying since 2008 to increase the number of troops on "normal" or family-accompanied tours to about half of its 28,500 soldiers stationed in South Korea by 2020, but it has been unable to begin the process largely due to lack of funds.
The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said in a statement that its commander, Gen. James Thurman, has decided that a start of tour normalization will not be possible this year as maintaining the troops' defensive posture remains the top priority.
He instead stressed that the USFK was working closely with the Pentagon to come up with best ways to help increase the troops' preparedness while improving conditions of their stay here.
Currently, about 4,600 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea are on three-year family-accompanied tours, with some 10,000 others who are also married and serving one-year, unaccompanied tours.
U.S. troops have been stationed here since the 1950-53 Korean War, and they continue to serve as a deterrent against North Korea.