JEJU -DO, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea joined regional experts to discuss maritime security and naval cooperation during the 17th Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy Shipboard Symposium, June 3.
Rear Adm. William Byrne was one of five speakers invited to speak at the symposium held aboard the ROK landing ship Cheon Wang Bong (LST 686).
"As the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea, this topic (U.S. and ROK Navy cooperation) is near and dear to my heart. In fact, I consider building upon and maintaining our relationship my No.1 job," said Byrne.
During his remarks, Byrne spoke about why the U.S. and ROK partnership matters and highlighted current and ongoing cooperation through the various combined exercises held routinely in and around the Korean peninsula.
When discussing why the U.S. and ROK partnership matters, Byrne referenced the U.S. Department of Defense's maritime objective of safeguarding the freedom of the seas.
He went on to note that freedom of the seas has been essential not just for stability on the peninsula and security in the region, but "it is responsible for what has rightly been called the 'economic miracle' of the Republic of Korea."
"When discussing freedom of the seas, we tend to focus on the concept of 'freedom of navigation' but it is more than that," said Byrne. "It is also the freedom to aviate, the freedom to communicate, the freedom to discuss, to disagree, to resolve issues peacefully, and the freedom for peaceful nations to pursue prosperity."
Byrne emphasized that 99 percent of ROK trade travels by sea and that the Port of Busan, located near CNFK, is the 5th busiest large container port in the world.
During his remarks, Byrne stressed the need for both navies to continue participating in exercises together to ensure further regional stability.
"We must always be ready to fight tonight, so we train together in the same environment in which a potential conflict might take place," said Byrne. "We train together because the strength of our alliance is in the frequency and scope of the exercises in which we participate."
While highlighting U.S. and ROK cooperation to the more than 250 guest audience, Byrne commented on several regularly scheduled exercises including the command post exercises Ulchi Freedom Guardian and Key Resolve, exercises Clear Horizon and Foal Eagle, and conferences such as the upcoming Anti-Submarine Warfare Cooperation Committee.
"The Anti-Submarine Warfare Cooperation Committee synchronizes the activities of all ROK and U.S. Navy commands dedicated to improving anti-submarine warfare in Korea."
"You need to go no further than the ROK Ship Cheonan Memorial to be reminded how critical anti-submarine warfare is to the ROK Navy," said Byrne.
Before closing, Byrne referenced four lines of effort published in the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson's '2016 Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority': to strengthen naval power at and from the sea, achieve high-velocity learning at every level, strengthen our Navy team for the future, and expand and strengthen our network of partners.
"While written for the U.S. Navy in a global sense, all four are equally relevant to the U.S. and ROK Navy partnership," said Byrne, "and I would argue that all are perfectly reflected in the U.S. and ROK Alliance."
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