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NEWS | Feb. 16, 2017

One Year after Move to Busan, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, ROK Partnership Stronger Than Ever

By Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Swink Commander, Naval Forces Korea

BUSAN, Republic of Korea -- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) and Commander, Republic of Korea Fleet, and the U.S. Embassy partnered together to highlight the first-year anniversary of CNFK shifting its headquarters from Seoul to Busan.

The celebration, which included a combined naval-partnership award ceremony, dinner, and a live concert, emphasized the significance of the move, the successful partnership, and combined strength of both navies.

"Our naval partnership began more than 65 years ago, but this year it has strengthened," said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of CNFK. "In fact, I can tell you that our alliance is stronger today than ever before and it grows stronger each day."

During the event, Cooper and Vice Adm. Jung, Jin-Sup, commander of ROK Fleet, awarded 20 ROK and U.S. Sailors for their contribution to the combined Navy team.

“This relationship [with the ROK Fleet] is why we moved, but the goal was never just to move," said Cooper during the awards ceremony. "The goal was and is to vibrantly integrate U.S. and Korean Navy staffs and work even more closely together to improve the war fighting effectiveness of our combined Navy team and strengthen our defense against provocations from North Korea.”

While presenting awards to CNFK Sailors, Jung said their achievements over this first year were remarkable and praised both commands for their close relationship

“I am confident ROK Fleet, and CNFK will continue the close coordination," said Jung," and I know we will serve as the example for other component commands as we continue to grow together."

Following the awards, 150 ROK and U.S. personnel attended a ROK Ministry of National Defense concert featuring Korean pop singers and ROK sailors. After the two-hour show, Jung, Cooper and U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Marc Knapper thanked the service members and their families for their dedication to the overall ROK and U.S. alliance.

“The relationships between our sailors and cooperation of our navies are vital to the overall U.S. and ROK alliance,” said Knapper. “What you do and the friendships you have with one another matter and today is a shining example of the close relationship both navies share."

Since moving to Busan in 2016, CNFK and ROK Fleet have collaborated on 35 U.S. Navy port visits, and more than 20 bilateral and multilateral exercises focused on Ballistic Missile Defense, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Mine Countermeasure Warfare.

Recently, CNFK and ROK Fleet have implemented Combined Edge, a junior officer exchange program designed to afford U.S. Navy junior officers the opportunity to learn from ROK sailors during patrols in the East and West Seas.

Additionally, both commands recently integrated the intelligence and operations watch floors ensuring a more efficient and accurate sharing of critical information.

“In my experience in the Navy, working with other branches of the U.S. military and with other nations militaries, this is the most integrated watch floor I have ever seen,” said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Sanders. “It provides unique opportunities to built trust and improves and cooperation between one another.”

CNFK is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the Commander of the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea. The command moved to Busan Feb. 19, 2016, and is currently the only U.S. headquarters located on a ROK base.
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