YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea - The U.S. military's top enlisted leader met with American service members here in South Korea May 1 - 5.

Marine Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia visited with U.S. troops during his week-long visit to military posts across the Korean Peninsula.

He also met with senior military leaders, including U.S. Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, and Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson.

It was his first trip to South Korea since becoming the chairman's senior enlisted advisor. He previously deployed to Korea for an exercise in the early 1980s.

A combat veteran with more than 32 years in uniform, Battaglia assumed the duties as the senior enlisted advisor to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on Oct. 1, 2011.

"It's been my honor and privilege to visit with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and family members here on the Korean Peninsula," said Battaglia. "I am very, very proud of their courage and commitment and the relationship especially that the U.S. has with the ROK [Republic of Korea] forces."

Battaglia said the bilateral relationship enables the alliance to "deter and prevent the daily threat of possible conflict with North Korea."

Emphasizing the importance of the U.S. presence in Korea, Battaglia said American troops on the Korean Peninsula have to maintain a very high level of readiness.

"We have potential threats that live very nearby," said Battaglia. "It's extremely important for us to maintain a footprint not only in the best interest of our national security but in the protection and best interest of this Korean Peninsula."

"There's a constant state of readiness here," said Battaglia, who served in al-Anbar Province during the Iraq War. "You really have to keep a game face on."

As the U.S. military reshapes and downsizes after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Battaglia said the Department of Defense will strike a "balance" that maintains military readiness.

The senior enlisted leader also highlighted the importance of resiliency programs to readiness.

"They are intertwined," said Battaglia. "If I don't have the ability to overcome adversity, I'm not ready. That's simply what resiliency is -- the ability to overcome adversity. If a family doesn't practice resiliency and is not ready, that causes a service member to not be ready either."

Battaglia said that American troops continue to serve with distinction in Korea and around the world.

"We ask more from our troops now than ever before in our history of our armed forces and these troops continue to clearly answer the call," said Battaglia.