News / USA

Head of US Special Forces in Seoul Hands Over Command

USFK commander Gen. James Thurman is flanked by the incoming special operations commander, Brig. Gen. Eric Wendt (left) and Wendt's predecessor, Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley (right).(VOA/Steve Herman)
USFK commander Gen. James Thurman is flanked by the incoming special operations commander, Brig. Gen. Eric Wendt (left) and Wendt's predecessor, Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley (right).(VOA/Steve Herman)
The head of U.S. special forces in South Korea has handed over command to his successor. The Brigadier General Neil Tolley generated controversy earlier this year when he made a comment construed as revealing American military personnel had clandestinely infiltrated North Korea.

The 8th Army marching band plays "The Ballad of the Green Beret" at the change of command ceremony Tuesday at the U.S. Army's Yongsan Garrison.

Brigadier General Eric Wendt is succeeding Brigadier General Neil Tolley as head of Special Operations Command Korea. 

At the ceremony, the commander of U.S. Forces in the country, General James Thurman, praised the outgoing special operations leader for improving the capability of his troops.

“Brigadier General Tolley applied the lessons he learned as an army Green Beret in combat to improve our alliance's special operations capabilities, combined doctrine and the tactics, techniques and procedures to execute unconventional warfare ensuring that we are prepared to face the challenges posed by an evolving North Korea threat," said General Thurman.

No mention was made at the ceremony of the controversy that had cast the relatively obscure general into the headlines.

During a panel discussion at a conference in Florida this past May, Tolley said U.S. and South Korean troops had been parachuting into North Korea.

The Pentagon later acknowledged Tolley was quoted correctly but that he had misspoken. U.S. Defense Department officials categorically denied that there had been any such clandestine missions, which would have constituted a violation of the 1953 Korea armistice.

Within days after the controversy erupted over Tolley's remarks, the military announced he was being replaced. But officials say the transition had been in the works for some time and the general was not relieved of his command because of his inaccurate public comment.

The command is the smallest of the U.S. military's six theater special operations commands. But the military says if hostilities were to erupt on the Korean peninsula it would quickly grow to be the largest such command in the world. It is also the only one which is geared for combined operations with forces from an ally - in this case, South Korea.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid