Troops in Korea 'in the Fight,' Chairman's SEA Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 20, 2006 U.S. troops serving in Korea have a tough, intense mission and are as much a part of the war as the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
A soldier from the Joint Security Area briefs Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey (second from right), senior enlisted advisor to the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Cindy, about the South and North Korean checkpoints on the demilitarized zone on June 20. The Gaineys were on the Korean Peninsula visiting servicemembers to thank them for their service. Photo by Spc. Angela J. Dyer, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey is here this week to visit military bases around South Korea and spend time with the troops and their leaders. Today he visited the demilitarized zone, which is the neutral area between South Korea and communist North Korea. U.S. and South Korean servicemembers guard the DMZ, as the demilitarized zone is called, and often are within meters of North Korean troops.
Gainey said his visit today reminded him of the toughness and intensity of U.S. and South Korean troops, and of the importance of their mission here.
"I really paid attention today to how committed the South Korean soldiers and U.S. soldiers on the DMZ are to letting everyone know that they're there -- just the sheer dedication in what they're doing," Gainey said. "I felt really, really good today to be an American."
Gainey ate lunch with soldiers at Camp Bonifas, which is home to the U.N. Command Military Armistice Commission. These soldiers are the most forward-deployed in all of Korea and spend their time patrolling the DMZ.
"You need to understand that there's more to the mission that you're doing here in Korea," Gainey told the soldiers. "It's very important. Just because you're not in Iraq and not in Afghanistan doesn't mean you're not in the war. That's why they call it the global war on terrorism."
Gainey, who was accompanied by country music artist Michael Peterson, chose to visit isolated placed like Camp Bonifas because the troops there don't get many visitors, he said.
"I'm hoping while I'm here in Korea that we go to some places that not everyone sees," he said. "I think it's so important that you go the hard road to get to that hillside and say, "Hey guys, gals, I'm proud to be a part of your team."
This trip embodies Gainey's main responsibility as the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: to meet with servicemembers from all branches of the military and bring back their feedback or problems to the service senior enlisted advisors and the chairman. Since taking this position, Gainey has visited 18 countries, including two trips to Iraq.
"When I get out, what I notice is that every service, regardless of what uniform you wear, has the same hopes, desires, dreams, goals and ambitions to be good," he said.
Gainey said his goal for this trip is to visit members from all branches of the military, and to let them know what his role is as the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman. He stressed to all the troops he met with today that he does not replace the service senior enlisted advisors, but he is a link between them and the troops.
Today Gainey also did a radio talk show at American Forces Network Korea. He talked about the value of military service, quality of life issues, leadership and other topics. One point he emphasized was the importance of joint operations in the military.
"The days of services fighting as separate units are over," he said. "You will fight joint for the rest of your life."
Quality of life issues are always in Gainey's top priorities, he said, because quality of life is the foundation for all other priorities. Gainey thanked the troops in Korea for their service, which he said he is impressed with already.
"Be proud of who you are; be proud of what you're doing, because you're dong a good job," he said. "I'm proud to be on your team."