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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid