Adm. Harry Harris
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
United States - Republic of Korea Alliance Night
Four Season, Ko Olina, Hawaii
November 5, 2016
“As prepared for delivery”
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be with all of you this evening to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the ironclad alliance between our two nations. I’m humbled to speak on such an esteemed occasion.
I'd like to start by saying thank you to the new Consul General, Young-hoon Kang, for hosting. Mr. Kang is coming to us from his service as Director-General for South Asian and Pacific Affairs in Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has stepped up to fill my good friend Mr. Walter Paik’s shoes as South Korea’s Consul General here in Honolulu.
Sir, we welcome you and Mrs. Kang to our ohana. And your arrival here couldn’t come at a more critical time for our alliance.
As Kim Jung Un reminds us with increasing regularity, our alliance faces a serious threat. North Korea's continued defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, with multiple provocative missile launches and nuclear tests in 2016, threatens the entire region and is solely responsible for raising tensions on the peninsula.
North Korea’s aberrational behavior threatens all of us here tonight. This behavior validates our combined decision to improve our defenses against such offensive threats by deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, as quickly as possible in South Korea.
As some of you may have seen in the news, Chairman of the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs, General Lee, met with our outstanding U.S. Forces Korea commander General Brooks, in an unprecedented meeting in Guam earlier this week. They were briefed on the THAAD system stationed on Guam. Then, they boarded the ballistic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania, where they made a call for North Korea to stop developing nuclear weapons and test-firing missiles. This visit is a clear demonstration of the highly survivable and lethal capabilities the United States brings to bear in support of the unwavering extended deterrence commitments to our allies.
This is a level headed approach by the Republic of Korea and the United States. With a threat like North Korea, it’s critical that we are guided by a strong sense of resolve both privately and publicly. This resolve is designed to bring Kim Jong-un to his senses, not his knees.
Military collaboration between our countries, who are indispensable partners, promotes peace and security around the globe. And, the relationship between our two nations grows stronger with each passing year.
In the 63 years of our ironclad alliance, it’s been the privilege of the American armed forces to serve side-by-side with our Korean allies.
Both nations fighting to extend the boundaries of freedom with courage and honor…ideals worth defending.
This alliance has been forged in blood…Incheon, Wonsan, the Chosin Reservoir…hard fighting and sacrifice where Americans and Koreans paid the ultimate cost of freedom together.
The Korean War was the first great battle in the long struggle of the Cold War. A struggle that culminated in the victory of democracy over communism…of freedom over oppression. Ours is a special bond based on trust, friendship, and shared values.
Despite the threats facing it, the Republic of Korea is a free country…a vibrant and prosperous nation that pulses with hope and optimism…and a beacon of freedom in Asia. This environment nurtures companies that provide innovative technology and products throughout many sectors of industry.
We maintain our vigilant stand together – day in and day out – as the bulwark against the tyranny and despair north of the 38th parallel. As we do so, we know that this is no longer just a military alliance. It’s much deeper than that.
Over the years, our alliance has grown beyond a traditional security relationship and now encompasses shared political, economic, and cultural values. Although our alliance was founded to combat the spread of communism and defend your great country, it’s now a symbol for peace, democracy, and freedom to the world
I’m proud to have served with the Republic of Korea’s armed forces and its diplomats throughout my career. We’ve worked together for a noble cause in the interests of both of our nations…peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula. Together, as allies, I know we will succeed.
So tonight, we celebrate 63 years of the U.S.-ROK Alliance history, and we look forward with great optimism to many more years as Allies, partners, and friends.
Thank you again for allowing me to share this celebration with you. May God bless all of our servicemen and women across the globe who go boldly into harm's way… may God bless this strong alliance…and may God continue to bless the Republic of Korea and the United States of America. Thank you and katchi kapshida.