Dempsey Says He’s Listened, Learned During Korea Visit
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
SEOUL, South Korea, Nov. 11, 2012 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today that he has learned a lot during his visit to Korea and will put that information to use when he returns to Washington.
In an interview with American Forces Network Korea following a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey thanked service members based on the Korean Peninsula for their service this Veterans Day, and he praised them for serving here in an ethical and professional manner.
The chairman said he considers the U.S. relationship with South Korea one of the most important America has in the world.
Although Dempsey has been to Korea many times and has hosted his counterpart in Washington, this was his first visit to the DMZ.
“In my 38 years [of military service], I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the joint security area where we maintain our commitment to our South Korean allies and also to the United Nations to maintain the armistice,” he said. “It’s a remarkable thing to see our soldiers and the soldiers of the Republic of Korea shoulder to shoulder in front of all others standing vigilant and ensuring the armistice remains in effect.”
About 28,000 U.S. service members are based in South Korea. Most are serving unaccompanied tours, yet more family members are living here, and the chairman said he sees benefits for the families.
“My children lived with us for five or six years in Germany, and what it did was give them an appreciation for another culture that they otherwise wouldn’t have been immersed in,” he said. “We moved them around from place to place in my time in service, and I think it has made them very versatile and resilient and broader, really than they would have been otherwise.”
He thanked family members for their willingness to serve, and he encouraged them to enjoy the experience. “I think that when they get a chance to reflect on their time in Korea, they will find that it was a rewarding time in their lives,” he said.
The chairman also took a broader view for military families around the world.
“As we take a look at our future – where we will find ourselves in the future – what I would assure our family members is that wherever we place them, we will continue to ensure they have the best possible housing, the proper medical care, good schools and opportunities to the extent that we can create them for children and spouses to live a normal life,” he said.
He admitted that this will be harder to do in some places than others, but said “our commitment is to work toward that.”