Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently arrived in South Korea to meet with officials to lay out future objectives in strengthening the alliance between the two nations.
Joined by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gates will begin the first “2-plus-2 Talks” and will outline a series of military exercises to be conducted over the next several months in order to highlight U.S.’ commitment to maintaining the security of the Republic of Korea.
Along with the 2-plus-2 Talks, The USS George Washington will arrive July 21 in Busan on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula for a port visit that will last until July 25. The timing of the visit recognizes the continued reaction of North Korea’s unprovoked attack and sinking of the South Korean frigate Cheonan in March.
“Our presence here is a testament to the strength of our alliance and our constant readiness to defend the Republic of Korea,” said Navy Capt. David Lausman, the George Washington’s commanding officer.
The Department of Defense is aiming to discourage North Korea from continuing their aggressive behavior.
“We’re trying to send a clear message of deterrence to North Korea,” said an official from the DoD, “which we hope will have an effect of impressing upon them that they need to reconsider the sort of behavior they’ve been engaged in, including the Cheonan [incident]. We’re also seeking to work with [South Korea] to increase and enhance the alliance’s capabilities — readiness, flexibility and our operational capacity. So I think there’s a real purpose to these exercises.”
Officials in both countries will work to perfect the South Korean military’s force management, defense reform and ground operations command efforts.