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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid