Defense

July 27, 2012

Carter visits DMZ, U.S. troops at end of Asia-Pacific tour

Tags:
by Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter arrives for a town hall meeting with service members on Camp Humphreys, South Korea, July 26, 2012. With his stop in South Korea, Carter concluded a 10-day Asia-Pacific trip during which he also met with partners in Hawaii, Guam, Japan, Thailand and India.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter got a close look at some of North Korea’s forces and spoke to some 300 of the U.S. troops stationed in South Korea to deter them July 26.

“Within the [Asia-Pacific] region as a whole, nothing is more central than Korea,” he told the U.S. troops. “You have a mission that there’s nothing abstract about.”

To understand that mission, he added, they need only “look north.”

The deputy secretary concluded his 10-day Asia-Pacific tour with a full South Korea schedule. Carter met this morning with South Korea’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung-hwan, National Security Advisor Chun Yung-woo, and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin.

Early in the afternoon, Carter and U.S. Forces Korea commander, Army Gen. James B. Thurman – who accompanied Carter throughout the day’s events – flew north of Seoul to the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.

The DMZ is a four-kilometer neutral zone stretching about 160 miles across the peninsula and spreading 2,000 meters on each country’s side from the line of last contact during the Korean War.

The armistice establishing the zone – signed 59 years ago July 27 – will remain in effect until the two nations come to a more permanent peace settlement. Meanwhile, the two nations still are technically at war.

The one place where North and South routinely come within staring distance is Panmunjom, where the military demarcation line at the center of the DMZ passes directly through a building – and even bisects a small conference table where the two sides have conducted all negotiations since 1953.

Carter stood inside that building today, and uniformed North Korean soldiers stood outside the windows on the northern end of the building. The North Koreans took photos, through the windows, inches away from the deputy secretary.

From the DMZ, the deputy secretary flew to Camp Humphreys, where he spoke to about 300 U.S. Army and Air Force members. Carter noted that previously in his career, he had accompanied an official government visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. “If you haven’t had the pleasure of being there, going there reminds you why you’re here,” he added.

Second only to combat units in Afghanistan, he said, South Korea-stationed troops must be ready every day to face and defeat aggression.

“And you are ready every day. That’s why you have the newest and best equipment — because your proficiency, your readiness, your capability, have to be tip-top for you to do what you do,” he said.

They and their fellow service members throughout the Asia-Pacific region “are at the fulcrum of the strategic change” that the United States is making, he said.

Repeating a message he has delivered throughout his trip, Carter said the era of Iraq has ended, and the U.S. and coalition mission in Afghanistan will transition from security lead to advise-and-assist over the next few years.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force has been “amazingly successful and amazingly efficient” in Afghanistan, the deputy secretary said, but beginning now and increasingly over the coming years, the United States can turn “this great department … and the greatest military on Earth” to the challenges that will define the future.

Carter noted as the national defense strategy recognizes, prominent among those challenges is maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

During his stop at Camp Humphreys, Carter also listened to a briefing about the base’s ongoing transformation. Army Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, 8th Army commander, and Thurman gave the deputy secretary an update on plans to relocate to Camp Humphreys about 17,000 service members, civilian employees and their families now based at Yongsang Garrison on Seoul Air Base.

Both the U.S. and South Korean governments have agreed to the relocation, which with construction of new military and community facilities, is projected to cost $10.7 billion. Johnson said the South Korean government will pay 91.9 percent of that cost, with the remaining 8.1 percent coming from U.S. appropriated funds.

The deputy secretary’s Asia-Pacific tour, which Carter said he undertook at Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s request with the goal to begin implementing the U.S rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, also has included stops in Hawaii, Guam, Japan, Thailand and India.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by 1st Lt. Jake Bailey

Cope South experts exchange knowledge, techniques

Air Force photograph by 1st Lt. Jake Bailey TSgt. Sam Bishop, center left, and SSgt. Jeffrey Stephens discuss propeller maintenance with Bangladesh air force maintainers, from the 101st Special Flying Unit, during exercise Cope...
 
 

Air Force names 2-star to lead F-35 Integration Office

With the initial operating capability date of the F-35 Lightning II quickly approaching, the Air Force appointed Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian as the director of a larger Air Force F-35 Integration Office, Feb. 1. In addition to gaining new leadership, the F-35 Integration Office will also grow from a staff of four to 12 and...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

Air Force risks becoming too small to succeed under sequestration

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 28, 2015, in Washington, D.C., as Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joesph F. Dunf...
 

 
Navy photograph by Ens. Jessica Kellogg

USS Elrod is decommissioned

Navy photograph by Ens. Jessica Kellogg The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) returns to her homeport at Naval Station Norfolk after a six-month deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. This w...
 
 

AF Identifies Boeing 747-8 platform for next Air Force One

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, in coordination with the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, has determined the Boeing 747-8 will serve as the next presidential aircraft, commonly known as Air Force One. “The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of...
 
 
Navy photograph

USS Roosevelt marks 200,000 trap

Navy photograph An F/A-18F Super Hornet flown by Capt. Daniel Grieco, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and Capt. Benjamin Hewlett, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, complet...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>