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U.S. Army unit set for Korea missions after Iraq

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. Army attack reconnaissance squadron is set to return to South Korea after missions in Iraq as part of Washington's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Pentagon.

The main body of 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, will deploy next week from a base in the U.S. state of Washington, the Pentagon's American Forces Press Service quoted Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza as saying.

The unit, which would be the first U.S. rotational land forces in Korea, has 380 members with 30 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, which are expected to arrive there later this month.

The troops, which were deployed to Iraq in 2008, plan to stay in Korea for nine months.

While in South Korea, the squadron will provide trained and combat-ready rotational forces in support of the 28,500 American troops stationed there, said Lanza, who commands the 7th Infantry Division.

"General (James) Thurman and the team in Korea are very excited to have them come out, because there are strategic implications of sending this force to Korea,”he was quoted as saying in a report carried on the Defense Department's website.

Thurman, the outgoing top commander of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), requested the return of troops and equipment to Korea as the war in Iraq came to an end.

The upcoming return of the unit is expected to help strengthen USFK air power in the face of North Korea's military threats.

The OH-58D is an upgrade of the OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopter, capable of carrying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Hydra-70 rocket pods, Stinger air-to-air missiles and an M-296 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. The chopper is generally used as a reconnaissance platform for attack helicopters such as the Apache and the Cobra.

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