|SEOUL, South Korea, June 3, 2008 - The new top U.S. officer here assumed command today with three priorities: maintaining deterrence through strength, strengthening the U.S.-South Korean military alliance, and improving the quality of life for U.S. troops stationed here. |
Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp noted as he took command of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea that his father was fighting the Korean War the day Sharp was born.
The U.S.-Republic of Korea armistice has deterred aggression and maintained peace on the peninsula for 54 years, guaranteeing peace and stability for the region, he said.
"It is great to be back in the Republic of Korea and to once again be part of the most powerful alliance in the world," he said. "With your help, I pledge to do all I can to continue to strengthen and expand this alliance."
The alliance will continue working to deter aggression on Korean peninsula and, should deterrence fail, defeat the threat "with immediate and overwhelming firepower," he said. "We are ready to respond quickly and decisively against any attempts to threaten the security of the Republic of Korea."
Sharp pledged to work to strengthen the alliance, not just against the North Korean threat, but as a force that promotes regional and global peace and stability. "The alliance will remain flexible and powerful enough to deal with all potential threats of our mutual interest," he said.
The United States and South Korea will continue to develop the most modern weapons systems and conduct rigorous training and exercise programs that maximize the capabilities of both military forces, he said.
In the meantime, Sharp said, he will work to continue improving the quality of life for troops and their families. The goal, he said, is to quickly reach the point where families will be able to accompany servicemembers during normal, three-year tours here.
That will require more extensive services ranging from family housing, schools and health-care facilities to programs that provide jobs for military spouses, he said.
"We are committed to the Republic of Korea and Northeast Asia for the long run," Sharp said. "Working together, we can make the Republic of Korea a station of choice -- the station of choice -- for United States servicemembers and their families."
Sharp noted the alliance's long history, tested on the battlefield and strengthened by rigorous training and mutual commitment. "I look forward to the next chapter of this alliance," he said.