Partnerships

U.S., South Korean Alliance Top Topic at Pentagon

April 1, 2019

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan met with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo at the Pentagon to discuss their nations’ joint efforts to support denuclearization, peace on the Korean Peninsula and other key alliance issues.

The U.S. and South Korea have been allies for nearly 70 years — since the Korean War when U.S. forces were part of the United Nations' response to an invasion by North Korea. Twenty-one countries ultimately contributed to the U.N. force, but the United States provided about 90% of the military personnel.

South Korean and U.S. sailors stand side by side listening.
Foal Eagle Forces
U.S. and South Korean sailors listen to a safety briefing at the Naval Education and Training Command in Jinhae, South Korea, as part of Exercise Foal Eagle, March 13, 2017. Foal Eagle is an annual, bilateral training exercise designed to enhance the readiness of U.S. and South Korean forces and their ability to work together during a crisis. The U.S. sailors are assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Torrey W. Lee
VIRIN: 170313-N-CJ186-0100R

Today, defense officials said the alliance and friendship between the U.S. and South Korea is stronger than ever. Here’s what you should know about it:

1
U.S. officials have cited North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime as a threat to U.S. allies in the region, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan and say the U.S. presence in South Korea helps mitigate that threat.
2
There are 28,500 U.S. service members based in South Korea ready to "fight tonight."
A helicopter flies over tanks.
Gunnery Skills
Tank crews with the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, prepare to qualify at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, South Korea, March 19, 2019. The training allowed crew members to improve gunnery skills to maintain readiness.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Alon J. Humphrey
VIRIN: 190319-A-YG558-671
3
The South Korean military has 625,000 active-duty service members and 5.2 million reservists and is one of the most modern in the world. South Korea’s combined forces have more than 1,500 fixed-wing aircraft and about 750 helicopters.
4
South Korean soldiers fought alongside American forces during the Vietnam War, losing 5,099 service members.
5
Combined Forces Command, at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, seamlessly integrates American and South Korean personnel. The CFC commander, Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, has wartime control of more than 600,000 troops from both countries.
A general looks on as a South Korean soldier demonstrates a skill for an American soldier.
Skill Exchange
South Korean air force Brig. Gen. Kim takes part in a joint U.S.-South Korean skill exchange field trip at Osan, South Korea, Oct. 10, 2017. The exchange is an annual event that allows soldiers to demonstrate their military skills and learn from each other.
Photo By: South Korean Air Force Sgt. Park Sang-hyun
VIRIN: 171010-A-NQ385-780
6
In 2018, South Korea and the U.S. renegotiated the Special Measures Agreement, a bilateral cost-sharing agreement that determines each country’s level of  financial contributions to the defense of the peninsula. South Korea funds about 41 percent of the day-to-day nonpersonnel-stationing costs for U.S. Forces Korea.
Runners carry U.S. and South Korean flags.
Running Together
U.S. and South Korean troops run together during the 15th anniversary of the Comrade Marathon, Sept. 8, 2018. The event allows family and friends from both nations to challenge themselves and support each other.
Photo By: South Korean Army Pfc. You Chul Lee
VIRIN: 180908-A-NQ385-609
7
The recent deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to South Korea is an example of how the two nations continue to work together to bring the latest in military technology to the peninsula, ensuring the development and growth of a modern, interoperable and well-equipped force. THAAD not only bolsters readiness, but also contributes to a layered missile defense capability, providing ballistic missile intercept and destruction from projectiles inside or outside the atmosphere.