The recently promoted four-star Army general who now commands U.S. Army forces in the Asia-Pacific region made his first trip to Korea in this capacity in early August.
The U.S. Army Pacific commanding general, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, and his wife, Dr. Carol P. Brooks, met American soldiers, civilians and families around the Korean Peninsula during their visit since he assumed command in July.
As part of the U.S. military’s shift to the Pacific, Brooks became the first four-star general to command U.S. Army Pacific since 1974.
Brooks said the elevation to a four-star general is an example of the Army’s renewed focus on the region.
"It says a lot about the Army’s commitment," Brooks said.
Adding, "Our strategy is to rebalance our efforts to the Pacific."
Based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Brooks commands 80,000 American soldiers in an area of operations that stretches from the U.S. west coast to India.
U.S. Army Pacific exercises administrative control over all U.S. Army forces in the Asia-Pacific region, provides combat enabling forces and performs theater security programs with 36 countries.
According to Brooks, Korea is one of the top priorities in his area of operations.
Brooks said that American troops in South Korea must remain ready to deter aggression and to fight and win if deterrence fails.
"We should never lose sight of the fact that there is a very unstable and unpredictable adversary in the north that doesn’t seek peace and stability," Brooks said.
Brooks assumed command of U.S. Army Pacific July 2. He previously commanded Third Army and the 1st Infantry Division.
He also served as the U.S. Central Command spokesman during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Army’s chief of public affairs.
Brooks met with soldiers serving close to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the world’s most heavily fortified border.
From 1996 to 1998, Brooks commanded 2th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment (Manchu), in the South Korea-based 2nd Infantry Division.
He called commanding the 2-9th Infantry "one of the greatest experiences of his career."
Brooks said he was especially proud to see four officers he commanded in 2-9th Infantry were serving in Korea today, including the current 2-9th Infantry commander, Lt. Col. Shawn Creamer; the United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area commander, Lt. Col. Daniel Edwan; the 41st Signal Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ray Wood; and the Eighth Army G6 Network Operations chief, Lt. Col. Dan Reynolds.
Wood said the general’s visit gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his former commander and reflect on the legacy of the storied combined arms battalion.
At the Armed Forces Network, Yongsan Garrison, Brooks credited U.S. military personnel with helping the Republic of Korea to rise from the ashes of a devastating war to become the world’s 13th largest economy in 60 years.
Brooks thanked U.S. troops, civilians and family members in Korea for their continued contribution to security on the Korean Peninsula.
"You are a long way from home and you’re making a difference here every single day," said Brooks.
Adding, "It matters to our nation. It matters to the Republic of Korea. It matters to the region."
(Based on a story by Walter T. Ham IV, Public Affairs, Eighth Army.)