September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Adm. Dennis C. Blair Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command Remarks to Korean American Association American Chamber of Commerce, Republic of Korea Seoul, Republic of Korea; February 7, 2002

United States Pacific Command
Adm. Dennis C. Blair Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command
Remarks to Korean American Association American Chamber of Commerce, Republic of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea
February 7, 2002

Admiral Blair: AHN-young hah-SAY-oh. (Peaceful greetings)

Chairman Koo, Mr. Jones, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen of the Korean American Association and the American Chamber of Commerce.

Pleasure to be here with you this morning -- Bahn-gahp soom-nee-DAH. I always enjoy coming to the Land of the Morning Calm. Both your organizations have been doing great things for the Republic of Korea and the United States since 1963 and 1953, I believe. I visit many American Chambers of Commerce, had the pleasure of attending one of your formal events several years ago. This is group has the most energy of any I have visited.

This is certainly an exciting time for Korea, with the World Cup in June; the Asian Games in October.

It is an important time with your local, National Assembly, and Presidential elections from June to the end of the year; and a visit by President Bush later this month.

Also an important time for the United States, with the campaign against terrorism.

I will address the war on terrorism, but first I want to look back over my three years as CINCPAC, especially developments with Korea.

From my point of view, the last three years have seen a strong positive trend in the relationship between the armed forces of Korea and the United States, and in the development of Korea itself.

In my early months on the job, along with General Tilelli and General Schwartz, and our Korean partners, we dealt with spy submarines in the East Sea, Crab Wars in the West Sea.

In recent months there have been no such provocations. True, the high hopes which followed the 2000 historic visit of President Kim to North Korea have not resulted in reconciliation yet, but there has been more dialog, fewer military confrontations, and the situation is fundamentally less dangerous than it was three years ago.

The United States and the Republic of Korea have renegotiated important and difficult agreements governing our military relationship:

The Status of Forces Agreement

The Missile Technology Control Regime

The Special Measures Agreement

The Nogun Ri incident was investigated to the satisfaction of both our governments.

So from my point of view, there has been steady progress in our military relationship, and our relationship is even stronger now than it was three years ago.

Let me address the war on international terrorism. The early focus of the campaign has been military operations in Afghanistan, but there was active participation involving the Asia-Pacific region.

All governments condemned the attack -- the government of Korea, which also lost citizens in the World Trade Center, was among the first -- and supported actions to prevent terrorism from striking in the future.

Pacific Command forces, including the USS Kitty Hawk battlegroup from here in the Western Pacific, deployed to the North Arabian Sea and conducted combat operations.

US forces deployed rapidly across the Pacific from the United States. Countries along the route including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, granted prompt overflight permission, and other en route support.

Australia invoked the Mutual Defense Treaty and sent ground, sea and air forces to fight in Afghanistan. New Zealand and Canada sent small numbers of troops and ships.

Following historic legislation passed by the Diet, Japanese ships deployed to the North Arabian Sea, where they are providing fuel to US ships and assisting with area surveillance.

Korea immediately and effectively intensified the security protection for all US bases and other Americans here on the Peninsula,

A liaison team deployed quickly to my headquarters in Hawaii for consultations on what was needed for the campaign, and soon Korea provided C-130 aircraft and shipping to support US operations in the War on Terrorism. This assistance has been both symbolically important and important to our operations.

Here in the Pacific the campaign against terrorism has also started.

Before the 11th of September the United States and other countries were not blind to terrorism, but our approach was essentially defensive -- to protect ourselves against terrorist acts, and if they occurred, to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators.

Since then the countries in the region have gone onto the offensive. Our objective is to identify and root out terrorists and their support in the Asia-Pacific region, and to make it an inhospitable region for terrorists from outside this region who may be looking for new homes.

There are no Afghanistans here in the Pacific -- countries which harbor and support terrorist organizations. North Korea is a special case, as our President has stated.

The key to victory is sustained unprecedented relentless cooperative effort among like-minded countries in the region against the common threat.

Such cooperation is happening, and is increasing. There have been early successes. You have read of the discovery and arrests of terrorists in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, terrorists who had traveled back and forth to Afghanistan, and who were working on plans to attack American ships and embassies, and other targets here in Asia. These arrests were due not simply to good intelligence and law enforcement work by the countries concerned, but to exchanges of intelligence and coordination of actions by the governments concerned.

The United States is providing military and other assistance to the Philippines against the Abu Sayyaf group, a criminal organization in the southern Philippines which has links to al Qaeda and which has taken American, Japanese, Malaysian, European and Philippine hostages.

The assistance will be provided by a temporary team of US advisors providing, training, equipment, intelligence, maintenance support The United States does not seek and will not establish permanent bases. American forces will not engage the ASG directly, but will be supporting the Philippine commanders and their forces.

As President Arroyo has emphasized, defeating terrorism in the Philippines requires both a war on terrorism and a war on poverty, and the Philippine plan includes both parts. Just this short summary of actions underway against terrorism illustrates the complexity and difficulty of the campaign. The terrorists have advantages of small size, international mobility, secrecy and flexibility. They can take advantage of the freedoms of our citizens, and areas of the region where the control of governments is weak. The key to their defeat is key is hard to accomplish, but it is very simple in concept -- relentless pressure against terrorists and their support conducted with an unprecedented degree of international cooperation.

Let me conclude my remarks with some observations about the future of the military relationship between the Republic of Korea and the United States.

I stated in the beginning that I have seen steady progress in the military relationship over the last three years -- I see that progress continuing and strengthening.

One program that will have a very important and positive effect is the Land Partnership Plan.

The U.S. will return almost 40 million pyong, over 30,000 acres, worth 1.3 trillion won, or 1.1 billion dollars, to Korea during the next 10 years.

This will infuse additional money into the Korean economy as contractors and builders execute the construction projects and provide business opportunities for redeveloping closing camps. As adequate housing becomes available, the morale of U.S. service members and the desire to come to Korea will also increase.

And with U.S. Forces Korea's troop strength remaining the same, simply being consolidated onto the enduring installations that will be modernized, readiness will actually improve. This is a plan with foresight, acting now to posture ourselves for the future -- with more control and flexibility, but less encroachment on the people of Korea, and more opportunities for new businesses.

A second important trend which will continue and intensify is the wider regional view taken by the Republic of Korea. For many years the Korean armed forces were focused strictly on the Peninsula, but in recent years there have been regional responses.

In East Timor, Korea deployed forces under the UN charter, forces which have done a very fine job in bringing peace to that small nation.

Korea's response to the war on terrorism has been wide, with Korean ships sailing as far as Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and Korean aircraft supporting the United States throughout the Western Pacific.

A Korean general officer now commands UN forces in Cyprus.

Korean officers have been strong and welcome participants in multilateral conferences and seminars on regional topics, including Korea hosting recently a conference of staff officers of some 20 countries, UN representatives and non-governmental organizations on humanitarian assistance operations.

And finally, the government of Korea has been absolutely clear that in all the changing security relations that the future may bring, it is important that the alliance with the United States remain strong and vibrant and that US forces remain forward deployed in Korea.

So I am optimistic about the future of the US-Korea military relationship. It has stood the test of time and crisis; it is based not simply on a common threat but on common values; it is based on years of planning together, training together and dealing with crises together. It now faces new threats -- global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. It has new opportunities -- continued reconciliation with North Korea, new regional security relationships. I am confident that it will meet those threats, take advantage of those opportunities, and continue to benefit the citizens of both our countries.

Let me now take your questions. Kahm-SAH hahm-nee-DAH (thank you).

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