Panetta: U.S. remains committed to South Korea
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta speaks to U.S. troops during a town hall meeting at Yongsan Garrison Oct. 26.

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said the U.S. remains committed to defending South Korea and maintaining stability in Northeast Asia.

During a town hall meeting Oct. 26 at this U.S. military headquarters post in Seoul, Panetta thanked American troops and their South Korean allies for their service near the world's most heavily armed border.

"In many ways, this is the frontline," said Panetta, "and the message I bring is this: the United States is committed to defense of the Republic of Korea."

During his first trip to South Korea as the U.S. defense chief, Panetta also emphasized the importance of Asia-Pacific and the role that American forces play in it. The defense secretary said the U.S. will not only maintain its presence in the Pacific region but will also strengthen it.

"The United States is a Pacific nation. We will remain a Pacific power. We will maintain force projection in the Pacific," said Panetta. "We will be a force in this region for peace and prosperity."

In spite of future budget constraints, Panetta said America will remain the world's preeminent military power and will keep the faith with service members and veterans.

"We are today the finest fighting force in the history of the world," said Panetta, "and we're going to maintain it."

Recognizing the South Korean service members and civilians in the audience, Panetta thanked them for their continued commitment to the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

"We are partners," said Panetta. "We're going to work with you to make sure we always protect peace and prosperity in this part of the world."

Page last updated Thu October 27th, 2011 at 00:27