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NEWS | Oct. 31, 2013

Gen. Paik Sun-Yup briefs senior enlisted leaders

By Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson

92-year-old, retired Republic of Korea Gen. Paik Sun-Yup met with senior enlisted leaders of major U.S. and South Korean military commands to share his first-hand experiences from the Korean War Oct. 31 during an early morning professional development session.

The hero of the Korean War, and South Korea’s first four-star general, shared photos and stories from the war and told senior enlisted Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Special Forces U.S. and ROK leaders not to underestimate the resolve of North Korea’s fighting force, and emphasized the importance of reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.

During the war, North Korean machine gunners were physically chained to the guns, and any Soldiers that did not advance as ordered were shot on the spot by their leaders, Paik said. North Korean forces are disciplined and will fight to the death for their leader.

Paik said that good intelligence gathering includes human intelligence gathering, and is critical. During one engagement in the war, Chinese and North Korean forces were able to hide the presence of nearly 300,000 troops at an ambush location, despite American air-superiority and reconnaissance efforts.

Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, senior enlisted leader, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S Forces Korea, said General Paik’s remarks about the motivation of the North Korean troops struck him as an important factor to consider.

“They are focused, disciplined – they believe in the Kim regime in North Korea – and they will fight to the death for it,” said Troxell. “It is important that we know that, so that our young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, and also on the ROK side, understand the dedication that the enemy has, and that we have to have equal dedication in order to defeat that kind of motivation.”

General Paik taking time to speak at the noncommissioned officer professional development session for senior enlisted leaders Oct. 31 also shows that he understands the critical role of the noncommissioned officer in the warfighting mission, said Troxell.

“Gen. Paik understands that we, the enlisted force, are not just the worker bees,” said Troxell. “We can be the strategic thinkers; we can be the operational thinkers – and in times when our officers go down in battle, we can step up and accept the fight and take charge and make sure the mission gets accomplished.”

Troxell said it was an honor to hear first-hand Paik’s experiences and knowledge.

“He is just a fountain of information on how to perform in combat, and leadership in combat,” said Troxell. “That kind of human capital that he has, we needed to leverage, as the senior enlisted, and take from that and apply it to the combined and joint team that may have to fight the same enemy that he fought 60 years ago.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Lee Gil-Ho, senior enlisted leader, ROK Ground Component Command, said he appreciated the opportunity to attend General Paik’s lecture.

“This is the first time to have this opportunity with General Paik and senior enlisted leaders,” said Lee. “Before he passes away he has a lot of things to tell the younger generation. We emphasize to young soldiers to keep in mind how to fight and we know how to beat the enemy.”

Troxell said professional development is critical for the enlisted force, and encouraged senior enlisted leaders throughout the peninsula to search out opportunities.

I encourage senior enlisted leaders to reach out and find those significant leaders,” said Troxell. “Leverage their experience and knowledge. If we don’t leverage it, we are missing out on an opportunity.”

Noncommissioned officer professional development improves the overall readiness and warfighting capability of the force, said Troxell.

“The idea is that we continue to push forward to make ourselves better every day,” said Troxell. “We’re not going to let complacency set in, and we are going to ensure that we are truly prepared to ‘fight tonight.’”

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