PYEONGTAEK, South Korea - In a significant step toward strengthening the enduring alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States, Eighth Army Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion commander, Lt. Col Joshua Pusillo, and the Pyeongtaek University Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet commander, Lt. Col. Jun-gi Baek, signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this month.
This agreement solidifies a cross-cultural, cooperative training program between the Eighth Army and Pyeongtaek University, guaranteeing its continued partnership in the years to come, even amid personnel turnover on the Korean Peninsula.
To Maj. Stephen Brooks, the HHBN operations officer, the MOU signing was a strong signal to the local community outside U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys.
“We don’t just work here, this is our community,” Brooks said. “This program is one way that we can invest in our community while being good stewards of our profession across cultural, racial and national boundaries.”
The cooperative training program already witnessed several successful events in the lead-up to the MOU signing. A year ago last May, the first leadership roundtable brought together military personnel and cadets, providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences. In November, a physically demanding fitness and sports event showcased the camaraderie and competitive spirit shared by the participating Soldiers and cadets. Additionally, in February, a training session focused on pistol marksmanship and combat lifesaving techniques, further deepening the collaboration between the two organizations.
Following the MOU signing, the cadets and officers listened in as Col. (retired) William Alexander, the Eighth Army and 2nd Infantry Division historian addressed the gathering, highlighting the historical significance of the 70-year-old ROK-US alliance.
“The U.S. has a long-standing relationship with the Republic of Korea that dates back to the Choson dynasty in 1882,” Alexander said.
He emphasized how this long-standing partnership and later, military alliance, has been instrumental in promoting peace and stability in the Pacific region.
“Although the alliance was forged during the Korean War, it has stayed strong because of both nations’ willingness to communicate openly with each other,” said Alexander.
Since then, the partnership has grown exponentially, encompassing a wide range of collaborations in the fields of defense, economy, culture and education.
The signing of the MOU between HHBN and Pyeongtaek University ROTC serves as a testament to the enduring strength and vitality of this alliance, according the two organizations’ leaders.
“By establishing a formalized cooperative training program, it ensures that the bond between the two nations will continue to thrive in the face of changing personnel dynamics and evolving challenges on the Korean Peninsula,” said Baek.
“This partnership between Pyeongtaek University ROTC and Eighth Army Headquarters Battalion is about developing relationships among future leaders to ensure the ironclad ROK-U.S. alliance continues to promote our shared values and maintain stability in Northeast Asia another 70 years into the future,” Pusillo said.
Pusillo added that the collaborative efforts will not only enhance the leadership capabilities of both organizations, but also deepen the cultural understanding and friendship between U.S. Soldiers and future Rep. of Korea officers.
According to Ji-Yeon Oh, a Pyeongtaek cadet, “This (the program) has helped. I’ve learned some things from the Americans, but I feel more confident to work with them when I become an officer.”