U.S. moves chemical warfare battalion to South Korea

The United States is planning to move a chemical warfare battalion from the U.S. to South Korea, a country threatened by North Korean biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The 61st and 62nd chemical companies, along with the headquarters and headquarters detachment of the 23rd Chemical Battalion, will be included in the movement of close to 300 soldiers early next year. The battalion will provide biological, chemical and nuclear equipment decontamination, reconnaissance and support to both South Korean and U.S. forces, Stars and Stripes reports.

"In Korea, like no other place on the globe, the potential for large-scale, full-spectrum conflict against the U.S. and its allies exists on a daily basis," a 2nd Infantry Division statement said, according to Stars and Stripes. "The 23rd Chemical Battalion brings specialized experience and expertise to 2ID in conducting operations to counter chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, and high-yield explosive threats."

Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman, said the move is part of a U.S. effort to put more diplomatic and military force in the Asia-Pacific region. It is not based on recent intelligence about the intentions of North Korea. The autocratic northern regime is thought to have a large stockpile of chemical weapons and a few nuclear weapons.

"As we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our (South Korean) allies, we are dedicated to ensuring that our soldiers are organized, equipped and trained for any threat they may face," Major General Edward C. Cardon, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, said, according to Stars and Stripes.