YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Aug. 5, 2013) -- The four-star general who commands U.S. Army forces in the Asia Pacific region is making his first trip to Korea this week.

U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Gen. Vincent K. Brooks and his wife Dr. Carol P. Brooks are meeting American Soldiers, civilians and families around the Korean Peninsula during their first visit since he assumed command in July.

As part of the U.S. military's shift to the Pacific, Brooks became the first four-star general to command U.S. Army Pacific since 1974.

Brooks said the elevation of the U.S. Army Pacific commanding general from a three-star to a four-star general is an example of the Army's renewed focus on the Asia Pacific region.

"It says a lot about the Army's commitment," said Brooks. "Our strategy is to rebalance our efforts to the Pacific."

Based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Brooks commands 80,000 American Soldiers in an area of operations that stretches from the U.S. west coast to India.

U.S. Army Pacific exercises administrative control over all U.S. Army forces in the Asia Pacific region, provides combat enabling forces and performs theater security programs with 36 countries.

According to Brooks, Korea is one of the top priorities in his vast area of operations that encompasses 52 percent of the world's surface. Brooks said that American troops in South Korea must remain ready to deter aggression and to fight and win if deterrence fails.

"We should never lose sight of the fact that there is a very unstable and unpredictable adversary in the north that doesn't seek peace and stability," said Brooks, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "This is what we always have to remain ready for and U.S. Army Pacific is part of helping U.S. Forces Korea and Eighth Army to do that mission."

Brooks assumed command of U.S. Army Pacific, July 2. He previously commanded the Third Army and 1st Infantry Division. The general also served as the U.S. Central Command spokesman during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the U.S. Army Chief of Public Affairs.

The general met with Soldiers who serve close the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the world's most heavily fortified border, Aug. 3. From 1996 to 1998, Brooks commanded 2th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment Manchus in the South Korea-based 2nd Infantry Division.

The general called commanding the 2-9th Infantry "one of the greatest experiences of his career."

Brooks said he was especially proud to see four officers he commanded in 2-9th Infantry were serving in Korea today, including current 2-9th Infantry Commander Lt. Col. Shawn Creamer; United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area Commander Lt. Col. Daniel Edwan; 41st Signal Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Ray Wood; and Eighth Army G6 Network Operations Chief Lt. Col. Dan Reynolds.

Brooks said their service is a testament to the kind of leaders who serve in the profession of arms.

Wood said the general's visit gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his former commander and reflect on the legacy of the storied combined arms battalion.

"It was a great visit," said Wood, a native of Lithonia, Ga.

At the Armed Forces Network on Yongsan Garrison Aug. 5, Brooks credited U.S. military personnel with helping the Republic of Korea to rise from the ashes of a devastating war to become the world's 13th largest economy in 60 years.

Brooks thanked U.S. troops, civilians and family members in Korea for their continued contribution to security on the Korean Peninsula and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

"You are a long way from home and you're making a difference here every single day," said Brooks. "It matters to our nation. It matters to the Republic of Korea. It matters to the region."