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Scaparrotti takes command in South Korea in multiflag ceremony

Published: 11:04AM October 9th, 2013

Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Republic of Korea Minister of Defense Kim Kwan-jin presents the battle colors of United States Forces Korea to General Curtis M. Scaparrotti during a change of command ceremony in Seoul, Republic of Korea Oct. 2.

SEOUL, South Korea – Korean and American service members proudly carried the three flags signifying the change of command of U.S. Forces-Korea in South Korea from Army Gen. James D. Thurman to Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti Oct. 2.

The flags represented three commands all under one American officer. They snapped in a brisk wind under nearly cloudless skies as Thurman passed the flags of the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea to Scaparrotti.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Korean Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presided at the ceremony.

The ceremony was much like the commands themselves — joint and combined. Korean service members stood shoulder-to-shoulder with American Soldiers. The change of command followed the Security Consultative Talks hosted by South Korean leaders, and also celebrated 60 years of the signing of the U.S.-South Korean alliance.

“For 60 years our commitment to each other has (withstood) many hardships, weathered numerous changes in military and civilian leadership and has never waivered,” Dempsey said, after watching Thurman and Scaparrotti pass the flags.

The chairman noted that since 1953, the allies have endured “three generations of constant provocations together, and we’ve never backed down.”

American and South Korean troops have lived together, trained together and grown together. “Today, no one can doubt that if it becomes necessary to fight on the Korean peninsula, we will go together — Kapshi Kapshida,” Dempsey said.

“This is more than a partnership,” the general said. It’s a living and enduring alliance.”

The alliance is based on common values, mutual trust and a vision of a peaceful Korean peninsula, he said.

Dempsey praised Thurman as a man who puts people first and inspires trust. Thurman has worked tirelessly to increase the readiness of U.S. troops in Korea while improving South Korea command and control capabilities.

Scaparrotti “is smart and decisive. He cares about the mission and cares about his people. He knows the importance of building relationships and reinforcing trust,” the chairman said.

Editor’s note: Scaparrotti commanded I Corps at JBLM from October 2010 to July 2011. He deployed with the corps headquarters to Afghanistan during his command.