By Rear Admiral Lisa Franchetti
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea/Navy Region Korea
The U.S. Navy continues to play an important role in strengthening the more than 60-year alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea. In 2013, more than 40 U.S. Navy ships visited ports throughout South Korea providing Navy leaders an opportunity to enhance military-to-military relations and combined training with the Republic of Korea Navy. These visits also gave our Sailors an opportunity to experience the rich history and culture of Korea.
Our small Navy corps that “lives here” in Korea has the privilege of serving beside our Republic of Korea Navy counterparts every day along with fellow service members in the Army, Marines, and Air Force. While we maintain a relatively small footprint of permanent Navy personnel in Korea, the expeditionary nature of our forward-deployed naval forces allows the U.S. Navy to be a ready and able contributor to stability and peace on the Korean peninsula.
Throughout the last year, our Navy team in Korea has worked closely with staff planners from the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea, the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. 7th Fleet, and the Republic of Korea Fleet to facilitate 25 combined and 3 multilateral exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy and allied naval forces. During these exercises, we’ve benefitted from hosting some of our Navy’s best maritime operators and most modern platforms in Korea, from the forward deployed ships, submarines, and aircraft of the U.S. 7th Fleet to other forward deployed forces from across the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
So why is this important? It’s important because the U.S. Navy’s routine presence in waters near the Korean peninsula helps demonstrate our nation’s commitment to our long-standing alliance with the Republic of Korea and provides a strong deterrent against threats to stability and peace throughout Northeast Asia.
Maintaining stability and peace is what the Pacific rebalance is all about.
U.S. Navy personnel stationed in Korea are making a contribution to the rebalance by fostering strong partnerships with our allies and friends in the Republic of Korea Navy. Through these close partnerships with our Korean counterparts we learn to operate more effectively as a combined naval force, which enables our Navy to be where it matters, when it matters, and ready to respond to a host of operational contingencies. This posture embodies the Chief of Naval Operations’ Sailing Directions and three tenets of Warfighting, Operate Forward, and Be Ready.
In closing, I would like to highlight that this spirit of teamwork with the Republic of Korea Navy is nothing new. The U.S. Navy has been working side-by-side with our Korean naval counterparts for more than 60 years, and we have a proud tradition of sending talented and culturally astute Sailors and civilians to Korea to serve as part of this alliance. The commanders who served here before me have paved the way in building the close relationship we enjoy today with the Republic of Korea Navy.
This long-term investment in relationships with our Korean partners has paid off. The Republic of Korea Navy is one of world’s most modern and capable navies today, ready to respond to threats to the Republic of Korea as well as contribute to critical regional and global missions like the CTF-150 counter-piracy task force and disaster relief missions such as Operation Damayan in the Philippines.
We have learned much from serving together as allied navies and we continue to mature and develop our capabilities together in the spirit of cooperation and with a deep commitment to serving our respective nations. This infectious spirit is apparent the day we step foot in Korea and begin working with our Korean partners – captured in our teamwork motto – Katchi Kapshida – We Go Together!