Odierno Visits U.S. Soldiers in South Korea
By Walter T. Ham IV
8th U.S. Army
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea, Jan. 20, 2012 Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno made his first visit here this week since assuming his service’s top uniformed post, and spoke to soldiers about the military’s shifting focus to the Asia-Pacific region.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, left, shakes hands with Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, during a visit to South Korea, Jan. 20, 2012. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Odierno, the former commander of Multinational Forces Iraq and Joint Forces Command, became the Army's 38th chief of staff on Sept. 7.
Leaders at this headquarters post for U.S. forces in South Korea briefed the general on 8th Army's transformation from an Army service component command to a deployable, combined and joint warfighting headquarters, capable of commanding multinational corps-level combat forces.
Earlier in the day, Odierno met with Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, and other senior South Korean and U.S. military officials in Seoul.
Odierno traveled to Korea following a meeting with U.S. Army Pacific leaders in Hawaii. During a media roundtable at Schofield Barracks, Odierno emphasized the Army's commitment to deterring or defeating aggression on the Korean Peninsula.
"We obviously have concern about North Korea as we watch the transition in its leadership. It seems to be stable for now, but that's something that we watch very, very carefully," Odierno said.
"Our presence in South Korea will remain the same," he added. "As we continue to reduce our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, that will make more forces available for Korea if necessary."
Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, the 8th Army’s commanding general, said Odierno was able to get a close-up view of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
"This visit was a great opportunity for the chief to understand the environment that 8th Army operates in on the Korean Peninsula," Johnson said. "American soldiers proudly uphold our nation's 61-year commitment to liberty here on ‘Freedom's Frontier.’ Because of their enduring commitment to our Korean allies, the Republic of Korea-United States Alliance continues to deter aggression and remains ready to fight and win, if necessary."
"I'm pleased that General Odierno was able to witness firsthand their pride, professionalism and dedication," he added. "The ROK-U.S. Alliance has never been stronger than it is today, and with the great support of leaders like General Odierno, it will only get stronger in the future."