YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Aug. 17, 2012) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh thanked American Soldiers, civilians and families stationed in South Korea during a visit here Aug. 17 - 18.

McHugh visited the U.S. Army's only operational-level combat formation on the Asian mainland as the U.S. military is shifting its focus to the Asia Pacific region.

"Korea has been and will remain a key U.S. ally and an important partner supporting peace and stability in this vital region," said McHugh. "We are proud of this long-term relationship and what it has meant to both Korean and U.S. national security interests."

On Aug. 17, he met with senior U.S. and South Korean military officials in Seoul and visited the Joint Security Area, the only place inside the 155-mile-long Korean Demilitarized Zone where United Nations forces come face-to-face with North Korean soldiers. On Aug. 18, he met with Soldiers on Camp Humphreys, the future headquarters post for U.S. forces in Korea.

Eighth Army Commanding General John D. Johnson said the visit enabled the secretary to witness firsthand the complex, hybrid threat that Eighth Army confronts on the Korean Peninsula.

"As the U.S. military shifts greater focus to this vital region, this visit was a great opportunity for Secretary McHugh to see the significant contribution that Eighth Army makes toward the defense of the Republic of Korea," said Johnson. "Our modern equipment, interoperability with our ROK allies and the quality of our leaders and Soldiers serve to deter aggression from North Korea with its history of violent provocations and pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction."

The secretary also learned about Eighth Army's revolutionary mission change to a Field Army, capable of commanding combined and joint corps-level combat formations.

McHugh issued the general order that designated Eighth Army as an operational-level Field Army headquarters in January.

The secretary said the Republic of Korea-United States Alliance is a highly integrated and professional combined defense team.

"During this visit, I have been impressed by the dedication, professionalism and focus of the ROK Army and the commitment of its leadership to strengthening our critical alliance," said McHugh. "Moreover, I have seen first hand the strong integration of U.S. and ROK forces. I commend both our U.S. and ROK warriors as they provide unwavering support to the defense of freedom."

Page last updated Mon August 20th, 2012 at 18:02