The Korea America Friendship Society hosted an annual year-end reception Thursday, celebrating 66 years of military alliance and burgeoning trust and fraternity between the two countries.
At the Millennium Seoul Hilton, KAFS President Han Chul-soo said despite North Korea’s growing nuclear threat and volatile peninsular circumstances, the two sides should further strengthen their alliance.
“We have trusted each other and fought shoulder to shoulder in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan,” the retired general said in a speech. “Today, the two countries maintain the strongest and most exemplary combined forces structure in the world. We have also closely cooperated on comprehensive global issues beyond security.”
US Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert thanked the society, noting it has striven to promote friendship and supported the bilateral defense and security alliance.
“What started out purely as a defense alliance has evolved into a strong and equal partnership between the two powerful economies,” the envoy highlighted. “Furthermore, we share mutual ideals of democracy, human rights and market economy. The US-ROK alliance encompasses comprehensive issues, and will develop on the basis of our nonpartisan commitment.”
New areas of cooperation lie in space exploration, environmental protection, cyberspace and energy, he added.
Gen. Vincent K. Brooks — commander of United States Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command — said 2016 had been a “really interesting and challenging year.”
“The beginning of this year was very challenging,” he said, referring to Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, which was followed by the fifth test on Sept. 9.
Mentioning the communist country also carried out 24 missile tests this year, in an attempt to drum up instability for the recognition of nuclear statehood, Brooks asserted that Washington and Seoul countered Pyongyang’s provocations “using our inseparable fraternity, bond and partnership.”
“I believe the US-ROK alliance is a very special one,” the general argued. “We have never been foes in history, and steadfastly maintained our relations like siblings or close friends. We have pushed forward our ties for our mutual national interests.”
Gen. Lim Ho-Young, who was appointed deputy commander of the ROK-US Combined Forces Command on Sept. 22, said, “No other alliance in the world has fought together in different wars, spanning multiple generations from our grandfathers to their grandsons.”
“Our blood-sealed alliance, forged through our forbearers’ sacrifice, cannot be altered by one or two persons. I am sure it will continue to strengthen in the future,” he added.
The venue was attended by US Deputy Chief of Mission Mark Knapper; Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson, deputy commander of USFK and commander of the 7th Air Force; Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, commander of the 8th US Army; American Chamber of Commerce in Korea President John Schuldt; and service members of the USFK.