Westphal voices support for U.S. troops in Korea
January 16, 2013
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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Jan. 16, 2013) -- The U.S. Army's second highest civilian official voiced his support for U.S. Soldiers, civilian employees and families serving in Korea during a visit here, today.
Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Joseph W. Westphal, Ph.D., is visiting the Korean Peninsula Jan. 15-17, as a part of a week-long trip to the Asia Pacific region.
Following a stop in Hawaii, Westphal arrived in South Korea to meet with senior American and South Korean military leaders and Soldiers on Yongsan Garrison and Camp Humphreys, the current and future headquarters posts for U.S. forces in South Korea.
Westphal said he is particularly looking forward to visiting Camp Humphreys for the first time.
"While I've never been there, I think I know Humphreys better than I know my backyard ... just from all of the presentations that I've had back in Washington about it," said Westphal.
As the U.S. Army winds down its involvement in Afghanistan, Westphal said Army units will be increasingly focused on maintaining stability in the Asia Pacific region.
Westphal noted that the Republic of Korea-United States Alliance will mark the 60th anniversary this July of the Korean War Armistice agreement that brought a tenuous ceasefire to the Korean Peninsula.
"The 60th anniversary gives us a chance to show what an incredible partnership this has become," said Westphal, adding that the anniversary shows how far South Korea has come in 60 years -- from a nation devastated by a brutal war "to one of the most vibrant economies in the world, to a country of tremendous possibility and potential."
During his two-day visit, Westphal will meet with Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea; retired Republic of Korea Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup, the ROK Army's first four-star general and a Korean War hero; and Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson.
Westphal said he is impressed with the readiness of American forces in Korea and the dedication of the senior U.S. Army leadership team on the peninsula, which he called one of the best leadership teams in the U.S. Army today.
"I'm trying to make sure that I can also be a voice for our alliance in Washington in terms of readiness," said Westphal.
The under secretary said he was focused on every issue that affects U.S. military personnel on the peninsula "from the tours that our Soldiers have here to the quality of the infrastructure that supports them to the programs that support their families."
As budgets tighten in the years ahead, Westphal said the U.S. Army will continue to prioritize its combat forces, wounded warriors and Army families.
"We want no compromise there," he said.
On Yongsan Garrison, the Eighth Army commanding general briefed Westphal on Eighth Army's revolutionary mission change from an Army Service Component Command to a operational Field Army headquarters, capable of commanding multinational corps-level combat formations.
The U.S. Army's senior leaders have all recently visited the Korean Peninsula and sang the praises of American troops serving close to the world's most heavily armed border.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler have all delivered an unwavering message of support for U.S. troops and their South Korean allies during recent visits to South Korea.
Westphal echoed their sentiments.
"More and more, this assignment is incredibly important to our national security," said Westphal. "This is at the heart of one of the most strategically important places in the world.
"If I was a young guy thinking about my future, I would think seriously about, 'Hey, I want to join the Army and go to Korea and see what that's like,'" said Westphal.