CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea (July 27, 2012) -- The U.S. deputy defense secretary wrapped up a 10-day trip to the Asia Pacific region July 26 by meeting with U.S. troops in South Korea.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter emphasized the importance of the U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula during a town hall meeting at Camp Humphreys, the future headquarters post for U.S. forces in Korea.

On the eve of the 59th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice, Carter also visited the truce village at Panmunjom inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone and met with senior South Korean military and government officials in Seoul.

His Pacific trip has also included stops in India, Thailand, Japan, Guam and Hawaii. During his visit to South Korea, Carter described U.S. troops in the region as the "fulcrum of the strategic change" that the U.S. is making in its shift to the Asia Pacific region.

Citing the high state of readiness of U.S. forces in Korea, Carter said that Korea plays a crucial role in the U.S. military's rebalancing efforts in the region.

"Nothing is more central than Korea because you have a mission that there's nothing abstract about it," said Carter. "All you have to do is look north."

Carter thanked U.S. service members for the security that they provide in this region that is home to four of the world's six largest militaries and more than 25 percent of total U.S. trade.

"Security is like oxygen," said Carter. "When you have it, you don't pay any attention to it. But when you don't have it, it's all you think about."

"It is the most important thing to this world and to our societies," said Carter, "and you deliver that."