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Military lifts curfew for troops in South Korea in 3-month trial

Gen. Robert B. “Abe” Abrams, U.S. Forces Korea, United Nations Command, and Combined Forces Command, commanding general, recognized Soldiers with 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division and 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade for their actions in assisting their ROK neighbors fight wildfires in the northeastern region of the Korean Peninsula last weekend April 12. (U.S. Army photo by Mr. Pak, Chin U., 2ID/RUCD Public Affairs)
June 17, 2019

U.S. troops stationed in South Korea will be able to enjoy a summer without curfew starting today.

The commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Army Gen. Robert Abrams, ordered that the curfew be removed for a 90-day period, between June 17 and Sept. 17, in a move to boost morale and quality of life for thousands of troops, according to a U.S. Forces Korea statement on Monday.

“South Korea is an assignment of choice with countless regional and cultural opportunities for assigned personnel. The intent of the curfew suspension is to provide [U.S. Forces-Korea] personnel greater access to all Korea has to offer,” said Col. Jonathan Doyle, U.S. Forces-Korea provost marshal.

“Our professional service members will act in accordance with our standards of conduct and Korean laws at all times,” Doyle added. “We are a professional military charged with the defense of the Korean Peninsula; military readiness remains a top priority for the command.”

A curfew order went into effect in December 2014, which stipulated a curfew for troops from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

In May 2018, some troops saw their curfews extended. A memo for 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) troops mandated a 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, citing troop readiness, Stars & Stripes had reported.

“The recall readiness time was moved one hour earlier in order to ensure that the division is consistently and completely in compliance with the U.S. Forces Korea readiness recall policy,” 2ID spokeswoman Lt. Col. Junel Jeffrey told Stars and Stripes at the time.

The curfew has a longer history, however, initially implemented in late 2001 and intended to improve readiness.

It was rescinded in July 2010 by former U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp who said, “I believe that we can trust our servic members to do the right thing,” Stars & Stripes reported this week.

The curfew was reinstated just months later after U.S. soldiers were found to be involved in two high-profile cases of rape.

The latest 90-day curfew pause will serve as a period of evaluation to determine whether or not to permanently lift the curfew. Service members will be evaluated on their behavior, morale and readiness.

The statement reminded service members that they are expected to act as “an ambassador of the United States” during their overseas service, and they must follow “standards of conduct and Korean Law.”

“These actions will serve as a demonstration to the ROK people that we will safeguard the vital relationships while maintaining the ironclad Alliance,” the statement added.