Korea, Asia Pacific region important to United States

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Eighth Army commander said American troops in Korea will continue to play a critical role as the U.S. military shifts its focus to the Asia Pacific region.

Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson talked about the growing importance of the Asia Pacific region during an address in early June to the students and faculty of Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul, the South Korean capital.

Johnson also thanked Sungshin Women’s University for educating future leaders.

"Korea is one of the most important countries in one of the most important regions of the world," Johnson, who also serves as the chief of staff for United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, said.

Johnson added that the region is currently undergoing historic change.

Johnson said the Republic of Korea-United States Alliance serves as the cornerstone of security and stability in Northeast Asia, home to four of the world’s six largest militaries and more than 25 percent of total U.S. trade.

He also noted that the alliance serves as a shield against North Korean aggression and stressed that America’s role in the Pacific and Korea is "long standing."

"Our collective role is to deter aggression," Johnson said.

Adding, "As we have since the end of the Korean War, we deter by ensuring the North understands how strongly committed our countries are to one another."

Citing its service together around the world, Johnson said the Republic of Korea, or ROK-U.S. Alliance’s relationship is not solely defined by North Korea and the threat it poses to the region.

"We have served side by side in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan," Johnson said. "We are fighting pirates off the coast of the Horn of Africa and participating in humanitarian relief operations in Haiti."

Adding, "Our strength comes from our relationship with each other. It cannot be taken for granted, and like any mature relationship, we have to work at it to ensure we are prepared for what faces us in the future.

"It’s a privilege to serve here. The people are warm and genuine and they are focused on the future."