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U.S. NCO chief stresses troops’ diplomatic role

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 7, 2011 - 19:46

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A top U.S. army non-commissioned officer on Monday underscored the ambassadorial role of the troops stationed here, saying that they carry diplomatic missions in addition to their military responsibilities.

Concerning the recent sexual assault case involving a Second Infantry Division private, Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler said any misconduct by military personnel is “not what the U.S. army is about.”
Raymond F. Chandler Raymond F. Chandler

The 21-year-old soldier was sentenced to 10 years in jail last week for sexually assaulting a teenage Korean girl in Dongducheon, north of Seoul, in September, while under the influence of alcohol.

This and other recent criminal cases have apparently tarnished the image of the 28,500 American troops here that serve mainly as deterrence against North Korea.

“This young man was found guilty of a heinous crime against a woman, and the punishment that he received is well within the boundary of the law, and I support that 100 percent,” he said during a meeting with local reporters at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

“If soldiers do not do what they are supposed to do, that is not right. It is even magnified or made worse, (when) you are in someone else’s country as a guest, and that is just not okay.”

The army NCO chief, who took office in March, came here to meet with U.S. soldiers and their families to hear their opinions about how to enhance their quality of life. Stationed in the Pentagon, the SMA visits Korea about once a year.

Saying that he had “fantastic memories” with the Korean troops when he was stationed here from 1999-2000, he said there are many things the Korean and U.S. armies can learn from each other.

“What I appreciate is the shared experience between the Korean army and American army. Both have great things. One of the things I always admire about the Korean army is adherence to standards and discipline,” he said. “We have a lot to learn about that. We have a lot to learn from each other.”

He also said that there are lessons from the U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that can be applied here.

“Here, we have a little bit different missions and operations, so there are certain aspects of what we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq we can apply here. Big part of that is actually cultural awareness and understanding,” he said.

Chandler serves as the Army Chief of Staff’s personal adviser on all enlisted-related matters, particularly in areas affecting soldier training and quality of life. He devotes the majority of his time to traveling throughout the Army observing training, and talking to soldiers and their families.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)