SEOUL (Oct. 15, 2013) -- The Korean National Defense University welcomed American military officers to its first combined training course here in September.

The week-long Combined Operations Training Course brought together officers from the Republic of Korea, or ROK, and United States Armed Forces to address security issues and learn more about the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

"We all began to better understand and respect the variety of perspectives in our group," said Maj. Lisa Livingood, an Eighth Army planner who attended the inaugural combined course. "It is the only course in my career where I have studied in equal numbers with allies."

Livingood said the combined course covered a wide variety of topics, including Korean history, the history of the ROK-U.S. Alliance and ROK military command structures.

According to Livingood, the combined course students visited the world's most heavily armed border.

"We traveled into the [Korean] Demilitarized Zone to learn about its structure, the role of the United Nations Military Armistice Commission and the functioning of a front fence line ROK guard post," said Livingood, who grew up in Frankfurt, Germany.

The course is one of many initiatives designed to strengthen the alliance that has defended South Korea for more than 60 years. ROK Army noncommissioned officers, known as NCOs, also train together with U.S. Army NCOs at the Wightman NCO Academy on Camp Jackson, South Korea.

Livingood said she would recommend the course to anyone interested in learning more about the alliance and the role it plays in deterring aggression on the Korean Peninsula and maintaining stability in the Asia Pacific region.

The Eighth Army planner added that the course enabled the U.S. military officers to bond with their host nation allies.

"The course promoted camaraderie between the U.S. students, the ROK students and across national lines," said Livingood.