Yongin, South Korea -- The Eighth Army and the Third Republic of Korea Army staged a joint spring festival in Yongin, South Korea, May 19. The festival, hosted by TROKA, gave the Eighth Army, TROKA senior leaders and their spouses the opportunity to enjoy the day and cement the friendship between the two commands.

The biannual festival consisted of a tactical conference and team-building programs designed to enhance the combined operation capabilities.

Eighth Army Chief of Staff, Col. Hank Taylor, emphasized the necessity to work closely together with TROKA for successful Eighth Army missions.

"Eighth Army and TROKA have a very close relationship," said Taylor. "They are one of our strongest partners that we have a lot of missions to do with as we defend South Korea."

Taylor also explained why the festival was designed to combine tactical and social aspects together.

"We hold this event so that we can continue working on operational and tactical problems that we want to work through," Taylor said. "We have social aspects in it so that we can also continue to be strong in the alliance at the same time."

Upon the arrival of participants, spouses moved for a field trip to the Korean Folk Village where they learned about the country's culture by experiencing a traditional lifestyle. During their trip they had the opportunity to create and decorate traditional Korean pottery.

The leaders' discussions took place while the spouses visited the village. These discussions provided leaders of the two units with a chance to share information, exchange ideas on various aspects of national security so that they could develop a shared understanding of current operational challenges, present solutions and establish the way ahead for future coordination.

The event then moved into the dinner session, which included social hour, entertainment and gift presentations. The session was opened and closed by brief remarks from the Eighth Army and TROKA commanding generasl.

Gen. Eom Ki-hak, TROKA Commanding General, said the festival was productive while expressing his confidence in the combined capabilities.

"I would certainly like to say that through this festival, we had very meaningful discussions on a lot of current issues and future operational plans," said Eom. "I'm sure that we will be able to achieve anything in the future because we have already achieved great teamwork."

Eom also said he appreciated U.S. Soldiers' hard work to defend the country.

"We have served as a great alliance together for the last 60 years," Eom said. "We were able to overcome difficulties and crisis we faced in the past as a team. I would sincerely like to thank U.S. Forces Korea again for all the dedication to defending South Korea."

Eighth Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal recognized the importance of these combined forums.

"Every one of these combined tactical discussions is very fruitful," Vandal said. "It allows us to identify complex challenges and work together to resolve it. We can also develop the way ahead in order to continue to improve our capabilities."

Vandal said the strong alliance based on friendship is a synergetic one that will sustain the countries and provide security and stability well into the future.

"Any time we get together between TROKA and Eighth Army, at all levels, the synergy that comes out of our combined efforts always exceeds what any one of us can do by themselves," Vandal said. "It's clear to me the strength of this alliance is built upon the friendships and the people that come together to resolve tough issues all the time. Whatever challenges may be presented by North Korea in the future, there is no doubt in my mind that we will go together and we will stand together to preserve freedom in this country."