Good afternoon and annyeong hashimnikka!
Ambassador Mark Lippert, Mrs. Lippert, minister
of defense Han Min Koo, Ms. Kwak, chairman of the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff,
General Lee Sun Jin, Ms. Park, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff,
General Paul Selva and Mrs. Selva, Commander U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral
Harry Harris, General and Mrs. Mike Scaparrotti… other distinguished guests, Generals
and Admirals, Excellencies from the diplomatic corps – especially from the U.N.
Sending States and Neutral Nations.
It is my great honor to
stand before you as the successor to a great lineage of commanders who defeated
external threats, set an example of a committed Alliance, preserved an
armistice, and secured a course of peaceful development and progress for nearly
These achievements have
not come without cost. In the present
day the challenges continue to rise, but so also do the strength of this Alliance
and the resolve of the United Nations. We must look into the future with clear eyes,
confronting the challenges to peace and prosperity, and doing so in a spirit
that is becoming of those who served and sacrificed before us.
I am both honored and humbled
as I consider the immense responsibilities inherent in these three commands. I will adopt general Scaparrotti’s priorities
until further notice, and I will ensure that we are always ready to “fight
I thank the President
of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of Defense for their special trust
and confidence in appointing me to this position. Also I thank God for placing this calling of
military service on my life, and I thank my wife of 33 years, carol, for
enabling me to continue serving at this stage in our lives.
Let me tell you that my
carol and I are happy at returning to Korea for another tour of duty in this
land that gave us so many memories before.
Being back on this historic
field . . . Hearing the Korean national anthem once again . . . And standing
side by side with today’s ROK and U.S. forces fills me with a familiar spirit
minkuk, kuk min yorobun, sarang hamnida! (pause for applause). It is very good to be
with you again.
To the Soldiers, Airmen,
Sailors, Marines, Special Operators, U.S. Government and Korean service
civilians – thank you for honoring us today with this ceremony. Carol and I look forward to visiting you, and
serving with you and your families.
Those of you who are on
the field, you are sharp! And
this is a very impressive display of military discipline and pride. I ask you only one thing, and that is to do
your best every day. And I promise to do
I am pleased that in
this position I will have the wonderful privilege of serving with ROK chairman,
my good friend, General Lee Sun Jin, who is already my friend and colleague
from our previous assignments.
I am also very pleased
that i will continue to be a part of the extraordinary team – the joint team – called
U.S. Pacific Command, and I’ll continue to work with and for Admiral Harry Harris.
Finally, I look forward
to getting to know each of the U.N. Sending States and their national contingents
as we build a strong multinational framework to address the challenges that
Let me close by saying
congratulations and sincere thanks to my good friend of many years, General Mike
Scaparrotti and Cindy.
Scap, you set an
example here that is absolutely the model for emulation. Your iron resolve, balanced with patience and
calmness – your skills as a combat commander, and your skills as a
warrior-diplomat, have been absolutely essential in navigating the complex
situations that arose during your time in command. No one does it better than Mike Scaparrotti
and I am delighted that you have been chosen to lead the largest standing
military coalition in the world.
On a personal basis,
thanks for your help in transitioning me and Carol into this command. While we did not have much transition time,
you always made available to me the time that was available, and for that I
appreciate it – it helped very much. Safe
travels to Europe and best wishes for another great command.
Ladies and gentlemen,
thank you once again for the honor of your presence here today. May god continue to bless our Alliance and
our work to protect and serve our nations.
Kamsahamnida! Katchi kapshida! Thank you.