NEWS | Sept. 30, 2021

Schafer takes command of Naval Forces, Region Korea

By Lt.j.g. Billy Petkovski CNFK Public Affairs

BUSAN, Republic of Korea -- Commander, Naval Forces Korea (Forces) and Commander, Navy Region Korea (Region) held a change of command ceremony onboard Republic of Korea Navy Fleet Headquarters base, Sept. 29.

Rear Adm. Buzz Donnelly was relieved by Rear. Adm. Mark Schafer, who is serving as the 38th commander of Naval Forces Korea and Navy Region Korea; the commander is dual-hatted in his U.S. Navy command responsibilities.

In addition to his duties as the U.S. Navy Forces and Region commander, Schafer will also serve as the Combined Forces U.S. Naval Component representative and United Nations U.S. Naval Component representative.

Donnelly served in his position as commander from April 2019 until September 2021.

“I could not have asked for a more professionally or personally rewarding experience here in Korea,” said Donnelly. “The professionalism and achievements of my staff and the Sailors who have been a part of the Forces and Region teams was nothing short of spectacular. It was truly an honor to serve this talented group of Sailors, civilian professionals and Korean nationals who comprised our talented team.”

The physical locations that fell under Donnelly’s command – Naval Forces Korea headquarters which was located onboard ROK Navy Fleet Headquarters base in Busan and Fleet Activities Chinhae located adjacent to the ROK Jinhae Naval base – allowed for effective joint cooperation between the U.S. Navy and ROK Fleet navy teams.

“The Naval Forces Korea headquarters building being located onboard the ROK Fleet Navy base and the proximity of our CFAC base to the ROK Jinhae Naval base certainly enhanced our ability to work with our ROK Navy partners and build the professional relationships necessary to cultivate an effective combined force capable of operating together to meet any number of missions,” said Donnelly.

At the ceremony, which adhered to local Busan COVID-19 mitigation measures, Donnelly was awarded the Legion of Merit by U.S. Army Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander, U.S. Forces Korea, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command.

“This award is a testament to the performance of the Sailors, civilian professionals and Korean nationals who worked day in and day out to ensure the requirements of our important mission were met with the highest level of professionalism,” said Donnelly. “I am confident in the team that Rear Adm. Schafer is inheriting and am excited for what the future holds for the Forces and Region teams under his leadership.”

Schafer’s previous tour was as the director of operations for the Joint Special Operations Command headquartered in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“I am excited and honored to be carrying on the legacy of this command and its rich history that dates back to its establishment in July 1957,” said Schafer. “The superiority of the combined team is a testament to Rear Adm. Donnelly’s leadership.”

Commander, Naval Forces Korea is the U.S. Navy’s representative in the Republic of Korea and provides leadership and expertise in naval matters to the ROK to improve institutional and operational effectiveness between the two navies and to strengthen collective security efforts in Korea and the region. Commander, Navy Region Korea provides shore installation management and support to Navy activities throughout the Republic of Korea via Fleet Activities Chinhae – the only U.S. Navy installation in Korea.