SPEECH | April 30, 2016

Gen. Brooks' remarks during Change of Command Ceremony

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 seven decades.

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 tonight.”

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 of joy.

Taehan 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 the same.

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 await us.

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.