By Gen. Vincent K. BrooksMay 26, 2016
Greetings and "annyeong hashimnikka" across the bases and places in the Land of the Morning Calm where we serve!
From time to time I will send out a communique like this one to share some of what is on my mind with as many of you, at once, as possible. This is my first one since I took command of the three-flagged headquarters of United Nations Command, the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea.
Let me begin by repeating that I am excited to be back in the Republic of Korea. What an honor it is for me to serve as your commander. I thank you for being here and for representing our nations in your daily service. I look forward to our service together. Let's make a difference.
Since taking command, I have begun visiting units throughout the Peninsula and I am happy to say that I am impressed with what I have seen so far. Moreover, my engagements with senior ROK officials, with representatives of the U.N. Sending States and also the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission all comment on the professional work you are doing. Keep it up!
I believe the current priorities of the command provide a good focus for us. Reviewing them with you, they are:
Sustain and Strengthen the Alliance: Our combined forces have displayed that they are capable and ready, and our ironclad ROK-U.S. Alliance continues to set the shining example of an enduring partnership. The Alliance is strong and getting stronger. Keep moving forward, together in the spirit of "Katchi Kapshida!"
Maintain the Armistice: The armistice agreement has remained effective for nearly 63 years. Those who served here before us succeeded in preventing a restart of the hostilities and open warfare that were stopped by this agreement in 1953. We will strive to succeed in this effort as well, but remember, an armistice is a suspension of hostilities. It must be preserved through vigilance and realistic training. Stay on top of your game and never become complacent.
Transform the Alliance: Changes are coming. We are going to be okay if we work as a team. Changes in full operational control of forces and activities in Korea -- an action set to occur when the conditions are met for transfer from a U.S. lead to a ROK lead -- will drive our efforts to build key capabilities. At the same time, USFK will change our footprint -- where we are located and what we do there -- as we implement the plan agreed to by the Korean and U.S. governments to transition to two enduring hubs south of Seoul. Let's stay in communication on this so you know what is going on.
Sustain the Force & Enhance the UNC/CFC/USFK Team: Trust and teamwork are vital to our success. Make it real yourself. No sexual assault, or sexual harassment, or embarrassing misconduct. Make good choices and take care of each other. That's it. I know you can do it and I am counting on you.
I want to leave three more thoughts with you until my next communication.
First, I expect to have "all oars in the water giving way together" (that is, pulling in unison) to accomplish our mission. This does not happen by a mere statement. Rather, it happens when every leader and supervisor sees the value of every person led or supervised. And, it happens when every person knows his or her role on our team AND GIVES THEIR BEST in fulfilling their role. We are at our best as a team when we do our work in close cooperation, and in harmony with others on our team.
Second, this command has been tested and proven capable of handling an evolving North Korean threat and its provocative actions. We will be tested again. I know you can handle these tests if you remain agile and ready. Strive every day to be both.
Third, and finally. As Memorial Day is upon us, please spend it safely -- enjoy the weather and enjoy the company of those you are close to. But also take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day. Remember those who came before us and who served and sacrificed for our nations. To best honor their memory we should remember them then take their place in standing for freedom.
Thank you for welcoming my wife, Carol, and me to this team of teams. And, thank you for all you do, every day. I will see you around "The Pen!"
General Brooks "Tiger 6"