CMSAF visits ROK, discusses regional partnerships
By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 02, 2015
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody visited three major U.S. military bases throughout the Republic of Korea, from June 30 to July 3.
During his visit, Cody met with Airmen and Soldiers to discuss morale, welfare, and the unique partnership between the ROK military and the US Forces Korea.
"Having this strong alliance, this relationship with the Republic of Korea, really speaks to the stability of this region," said Cody. "As global partners within the Pacific theater, having strong-relationships is essential. As we sit here with an armistice currently in place, you understand there is a real and constant presence to the north. We have to be able to effectively protect the peninsula, and if necessary, respond accordingly."
The Air Force is the smallest in its history as an independent service, yet the requirements for Airmen in the region have not decreased.
"Our Airmen across the peninsula are extremely busy and have to remain razor-sharp and focused on that fight tonight mentality," said Cody. "At any moment, with the proximity to the border, they must be ready to respond."
Cody toured various work centers and facilities who directly respond to combat threats. He met with thousands of Airmen, Soldiers, and civilians, received mission briefings and spoke at an all call.
"Having that personal relationship and contact with Airmen at an all call is quite different than using our electronic means like email or social media," said Cody. "Being able to look an Airman in the eye and get to know them, see the environment they are operating in, see their unique challenges versus being told about them is important."
Cody used the all call as an opportunity to share his insight about the USFK/ROK partnership, force management, the launch of the new enlisted performance reports, and other concerns.
"We understand what the posture and presence has to be here, while balancing the limited resources we have," Cody explained to the more than 1,000 members at an all call. "There is a very committed focus to ensuring our relationship with the Republic of Korea remains solid, and that the resources and assets necessary to be in that fight, tonight if necessary, are here."
During his first three days throughout the Korean peninsula, Cody spent breakfast, lunch and dinner with military members, all the while encouraging them to express their concerns, ask questions and maintain their situational awareness in order to better serve their fellow service members and ultimately, themselves.
"I enjoy the conversations because visits like this are an opportunity to thank the Airmen and their families for the hard work they do every day," he said. "It's important for me to be available to them so I can hear the things that are on their minds."
Every time he met with Airmen, Cody discussed the Korean-American relationship and the global impact both nations play throughout the Pacific.
"There is a real advantage in bringing Airmen here to this real-world, fight tonight place while not actually executing combat," said Cody. "We are right on the edge here preparing and training for combat operations with exquisite capabilities, but we don't have active-engagements with the enemy. A one-year rotation is challenging because of the constant turn but it also provides a great platform to get Airmen serious experience."
Cody characterized the year-long tour in the ROK as a dog year because it feels like you are getting seven years of experience.
"Members come here and get that extremely high-tempo experience in a single year versus a regular one back in the United States," he said. "The battle rhythm is intense and purposely so. Getting that exposure to be on-the-edge and have that real-life experience and realism that exists here is important."
Cody was stationed at Osan AB as an air traffic control watch supervisor more than 20 years ago.
"When I was stationed in Korea the partnerships and friendships were present just like they are today," he said. "But the significant change is the ability of the South Koreans to grow and prosper both economically and militarily. Look at how Seoul has continued to grow and expand because of the commitment by the Republic of Korea. The Korean government is even assisting in fortifying the bases across the peninsula as a real testament to our outstanding partnership."