An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Sept. 30, 2013

Hagel Watches Training, Tours DMZ During Korea Visit

By Karen Parrish American Forces Press Service

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel traveled north from the South Korean capital today, visiting U.S. and South Korean soldiers, observing training, then continuing on to Panmunjom, site of the Demilitarized Zone separating democratic South Korea from its communist northern neighbor.

At Rodriguez Live-Fire Complex, about two-thirds of the way from Seoul to the DMZ, Hagel observed training and certification of a U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division platoon. The division’s soldiers certify on critical tasks annually, a spokesman said, and today’s training simulated breaching an enemy-emplaced obstacle during a mounted attack.
The joint, combined scenario involved U.S. Bradley fighting vehicles and Apache helicopters, and South Korean K1A1 tanks. Platoon leaders must incorporate air, engineer, indirect fire and allied capabilities to successfully complete the simulated mission.

Hagel spoke to U.S. and South Korean troops at the live-fire complex after observing the training. He explained he is visiting here this week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S-South Korean alliance and to celebrate South Korean Armed Forces Day.

“The South Korean soldiers are particularly important in this celebration,” he said. “And we want to help celebrate this special day. It's a day that also gives us an opportunity to acknowledge this partnership.”

The secretary noted that during this visit he also will preside, along with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, over the change of command ceremony that will mark the transition of U.S. Forces Korea command from Army Gen. James D. Thurman to Army Gen. Curtis M. “Mike” Scaparrotti.

Hagel thanked the troops for the opportunity to observe their training, which he called “impressive.” He also thanked them, and their families, for the mission they are undertaking: protecting South Korea from its northern neighbor and maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

“I'm also here to send some time with the South Korean defense minister and the leaders of South Korea in talking about what we do next -- how we go forward with this relationship,” Hagel told the troops.

The secretary noted he received a 2nd Infantry Division jacket during his visit, which he wore to speak to the troops. “I shall wear it proudly, and I'll wear it more than just here to show off the 2nd ID,” he said.

The division’s soldiers have a big responsibility, as they are well aware, Hagel said.

“You are the only forward-deployed division we have in the United States Army in the world. … That responsibility doesn't cease. It doesn't ease, and it is one of constant vigilance, and I know that's a big burden,” he said. “But I suspect that each of you wouldn't want it any other way, or you wouldn't be here.”

Hagel said from the president on down, Americans appreciate what their deployed and forward-deployed troops are doing here and around the world.

“I know sometimes you're out here alone and wonder if anybody's paying attention and really does understand or appreciate what you do,” he said. “We do. And thank you.”

From the live-fire complex, the secretary traveled to the DMZ, where he and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin visited the Ouellette Observation Post. Also known as Guard Post 142, it’s closest to the dividing line and the last U.S.-manned outpost on the southern DMZ, all others being the responsibility of South Korean troops.

The secretary also toured Panmunjom, site of the line of demarcation, where both North and South Korea maintain military headquarters and keep vigilant eyes on each other.

Speaking to reporters at Panmunjom, Hagel said it’s “probably the only place in the world where we have always a risk of confrontation, when two sides are looking clearly and directly at each other all the time.”

There is no margin for error along the DMZ, the secretary said, and he credited the strong alliance between South Korea and the United States for keeping the region stable and peaceful.

“There's always a challenge; there's always a threat,” he said. “But this partnership and this relationship is really unique, and it has been able to manage through many ups and downs in the differences between the two countries that share the Korean Peninsula.”

Responding to a reporter’s question, Hagel said he believes Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea, which possesses chemical weapons, is watching closely to see what the world will do in response to Syria’s use of such illegal weapons.

“We've always got to keep in mind that threats that come from use of weapons of mass destruction are not limited to borders or regions,” he said. “They are global threats. And nations who possess those kinds of weapons and who are irresponsible do watch how the world responds and reacts.”

Hagel also responded to a question asking whether the Pentagon has considered reducing its about 60,000-member force forward-deployed to the Korean Peninsula.

“No,” he said. “There has not been any consideration or conversation about that. … The Department of Defense will manage through whatever reductions we have to take … [and] at the same time, assure our partners -- and specifically here in the Asia-Pacific -- that our commitments still stand.

“There's never been any consideration of changing our force protection or force presence here in Korea or anywhere else in this area,” he said.

South Korea has made great strides militarily, Hagel said, and “is continuing to enhance and improve and strengthen its capabilities in all areas.”

“And that's good,” he added. “That's what they should do and they want to do and we want them to do. And we're supporting that.”

As his final act on the DMZ, the secretary administered the oath of office to Marine Corps Capt. Bradlee J. Avots and promoted him to major. Avots is a member of the secretary’s public affairs team.

The secretary’s visit to South Korea will continue tomorrow, with senior-level meetings and celebrations in honor of South Korea’s Armed Forces Day.

Later this week, Hagel will travel to Japan, where he will join Secretary of State John F. Kerry and their counterparts for “2-plus-2” meetings between U.S and Japanese foreign and defense ministers.

This article was originally published at:



US and Philippine Army Soldiers Establish a Joint Operations Center for the First Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center-Exportable in the Philippines
U.S. and Philippines Army soldiers monitor personnel actions in the Joint Operations Center during the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center-Exportable (JPMRC-X) exercise on Fort Magsaysay, Philippines, 31 May 2024. This iteration of JPMRC-X marks the first deployment to the Philippines, which will enable and assist the Philippines Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in building combat training center locations within the Philippines.
The JPMRC-X is a Department of the Army initiative consisting of a deployable package of personnel and equipment designed to support training exercises across the Pacific. 
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tommie Berry)
June 7, 2024 - U.S. and Philippine Army Soldiers establish a Joint Operations Center (JOC) as part of Exercise Salaknib 2024. The establishment of a JOC marks a pivotal moment in fostering collaboration among multinationals during the Joint...

317 AW 'Explodes into Theater' with maximum endurance operation for Valiant Shield 24
A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, gets refueled at Travis Air Force Base, California, during an extended Maximum Endurance Operation, June 4, 2024. Two aircraft equipped with external fuel tanks completed the MEO to Guam in support of Valiant Shield 2024. Exercises such as Valiant Shield allow the Indo-Pacific Command Joint Forces the opportunity to integrate forces from all branches of service and with our allies to conduct precise, lethal, and overwhelming multi-axis, multi-domain effects that demonstrate the strength and versatility of the Joint Force and our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emma Anderson)
June 7, 2024 - The 317th Airlift Wing successfully completed an expanded Maximum Endurance Operation to Guam with two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft equipped with external fuel tanks, June 4, 2024...

Allies Come Together in the Indo-Pacific: Valiant Shield 24
June 5, 2024 - U.S. Indo-Pacific Command joint forces, along with allied and partner forces, are scheduled to participate in exercise Valiant Shield (VS) 2024, June 7-18, on Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau,...

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Concludes Tenth Visit to the Indo-Pacific
June 5, 2024 - Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III concluded his tenth official visit to the Indo-Pacific region today...

Malaysia, U.S. Continue to Strengthen Ties at Bersama Warrior 2024 Exercise
Washington National Guard and Malaysian Armed Forces members participate in the Bersama Warrior 2024 opening ceremonies June 1, 2024, at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Washington Guard and Malaysia have been partners under the State Partnership Program since 2017.
June 5, 2024 - The 10th annual Bersama Warrior exercise began June 1 with an opening ceremony led by Malaysian Armed Forces leaders and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Kenneth Borchers, director of the Joint Staff for the Washington National...