Osan Air Base is one of the few military bases located in South Korea, only 64 km away from Seoul. The general objective of this base is to ensure the protection of South Korea from all points of view. At the same time, this base is one of the two active facilities run by the United States of America in South Korea, under the local laws and regulations. Although there were many others out there, most of them were closed. The base is located in the northern part of the country.
The history of this base is entirely American. If other bases run by the Americans in foreign territories used to belong to the local armies, things are different for this one. It was actually built from scratch by the American forces during the Korean War. The place was easy to pick. It hosted the Battle of Bayonet Hill in 1951. After the US forces won it, they found the area excellent to set up a little base and maintain the control in the surroundings. The base construction began in 1952 and it was over by 1953. A few squadrons joined right away. In the first months of 1953, multiple bombing operations were run from this base. Since it was close to North Korea, its location was excellent. Many of these operations were decisive to establish a peaceful attitude in this part of Asia. As the war ended in the summer of 1953, the US forces decided to withdraw most of their forces, except for a single unit to ensure the defense of the area.
Over the Cold War, no particular actions were taken from this base, regardless of its proximity to Russia. It was also left like in its first days. Aside from a more advance runway, the conditions on site remained the same. This is why most of the troops were given extra wages when deployed there, to compensate for the harsh living conditions. The Pueblo Crisis raised an alarm among the authorities too. North Korea launched an attack over USS Pueblo, causing over 1000 military troops to be deployed in the area. However, the weather conditions were extreme. They had to deal with temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius and without any winter clothes or warming facilities. They were sleeping in tents, directly on the ground. Many of them returned home with more problems than before getting there. It was the time when the local authorities decided to raise enough funds to improve this base.
The 51-st Fighter Wing is the main unit hosted on site at Osan Air Base. It works in four groups and more than 20 squadrons. The base also hosts the 7-th Air Force and around 10 associate units and base agencies.
Due to the risky situations around South Korea, the troops deployed at Osan Air Base are hosted on site. There are also about 5% of them living off site. The on site facilities include everything you can think of, as things have changed since the ’50s.