USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea — On May 13, 2021, intelligence professionals from across the Republic of Korea (ROK) came together for a night to celebrate the ties of the Alliance at the River Bend Golf Course at Camp Humphreys.
The 2021 ROK/U.S. Military Intelligence Community Reception, hosted on behalf of U.S. Intelligence and Security Command by the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, brought representatives from the U.S. and ROK intelligence organizations together as a chance to further strengthen the relationships that make their mission successful.
Col. Paul Oh, commander, 501st MI Brigade, thanked senior leaders including Lt. Gen. Bill Burleson, commanding general, Eighth Army; ROK Army Maj. Gen. Lee, Hwa Soo, commanding general, Korean Defense Intelligence Command, and ROK Army Maj. Gen. Jang, Se Joon, intelligence director, ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff, for attending the event.
Oh remarked in his speech that maintaining and strengthening an alliance is not easy and that it requires an investment of our energy, resources, and time.
“This is because at the core, maintaining an alliance requires trust,” said Oh. “And acquiring trust takes time. It doesn’t just automatically happen. We need time to meet together, train together, sweat together, struggle together, and even eat and drink together.”
In years past, the commanding general of INSCOM, the higher headquarters of the U.S. Army’s intelligence presence in Korea, attended the reception. However, due the continued restrictions on travel imposed by COVID-19, Maj. Gen. Gary Johnston, commanding general, INSCOM, provided a pre-recorded message that was played during the reception.
“I know of no greater partnership in the world than ours,” said Johnston. “This alliance is supported by the combined and joint intelligence structure built on the blood and sweat of those who have come before us. It is sustained by the relationships in the room. The partnership we share cultivates a safe environment for millions of citizens to thrive.”
Johnston urged the attendees to continue to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. He also thanked the ROK personnel for the warmth and friendship he experienced during his time in command, and the U.S. personnel for their sacrifice in serving away from home.
“Our Army’s Chief of Staff continues to emphasize his ‘People First’ strategy,” said Johnston. “He is right to do so because People are what make both of our militaries strong. So, let’s reflect on the value of the relationships in this room, and celebrate it tonight.”
During his remarks, Maj. Gen. Jang, Se Joon said, the circumstances around the peninsula and around the world are changing dynamically. He continued that in the coming days they will be seeing changes to the peninsula security environment and be facing different challenges.
“However, we will overcome these challenges one-by-one to become stronger as we did in the past,” said Jang. “Please know that this can only be done with the solid support from both the ROK and U.S. intelligence communities. We go together.”
As a symbolic gesture, senior leaders from both sides signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize the partnership of the Combined Ground Intelligence Operations Center. The representatives who signed the document from the U.S. side were: Brig. Gen. Michelle Bredenkamp, intelligence director, United States Forces Korea; Col. Kurt Connell, intelligence director, Eighth Army; and Col. Paul Oh, commander, 501st MI Brigade; and from the ROK side were: Brig. Gen. Kim, Joo Hee, intelligence director, Ground Operations Command; and Col. Park, Yong Sang, chief, Combined Ground Intelligence Operations Center.
The night concluded with Lee, Jang, Kim, Bredenkamp and Oh together wielding the knife to cut the ROK/U.S. Military Intelligence Community Reception cake.
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade provides indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces that could threaten the tense but stable peace in the Republic of Korea. In the event of hostilities, the brigade’s mission shifts to providing combined, multi-discipline intelligence and force protection support to the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command, the CFC Ground Component Command, and their subordinate units.