SEOUL (June 12, 2012) -- A former U.S. Army chief of staff thanked U.S. Soldiers in South Korea for upholding America's commitment to security on the Korean Peninsula and stability in Northeast Asia.

Retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, the 32nd U.S. Army chief of staff and current president of the Association of the United States Army, was the guest speaker at the U.S. Army Birthday Ball at the Seoul Grand Hyatt.

"It's great to be back in Korea," said Sullivan, who served in Korea during the 1960s. "The Asia Pacific region is once again growing in importance politically, economically and militarily, and you can certainly see that here in the Republic of Korea."

Sullivan said the Army had served with distinction in the Pacific throughout its 237-year history.

According to Sullivan, the U.S. Army has 181 battle streamers and 63 of them were earned in the Pacific.

"That's a lot of sacrifice represented," said Sullivan. "This legacy of selfless service is a proud legacy."

Sullivan said the "essence" of the U.S. military is people who are willing step forward and endure the hardships necessary to defend freedom.

"Nobody said it was going to be easy," said Sullivan. "It takes courage and character -- and that's what those flags and those streamers represent."