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Seoul honors outgoing U.S. naval commander for contribution to alliance

All News 09:49 January 09, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government bestowed a medal Tuesday on Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, the outgoing commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Korea, for his contribution to the alliance.

Adm. Um Hyun-seong, South Korea's chief of naval operations, awarded him the Cheonsu Medal, the third-highest class in the Order of National Security Merit, on behalf of the government, according to the South Korean Navy.

Cooper is leaving Korea this week after a 16-month stint. He has served as the U.S. Navy's top representative here, playing an active role in policy coordination and joint programs between the allies, said the Navy.

Under his command, the troops successfully took root in their new headquarters in Busan, a southern port city, where South Korea's Fleet Command is located.

The unit's presence on the peninsula dates back to 1957, when it was created to support the mission of the UNC and advise the organization, training, administration and readiness of the South Korean naval forces.

In this file photo, Rear Adm. Brad Cooper (R), commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Korea, receives a Korean name -- Goo Tae-il -- from the South Korea-U.S. Alliance Friendship Association on July 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

In 2016, its headquarters was relocated to Busan from Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul.

Cooper is also credited with helping promote the two sides' combined operation capabilities through frequent meetings with South Korea's naval officers, where the two sides shared information and discussed ways to improve the joint risk management ability, the Navy said.

The U.S. Naval Forces Korea received the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC), which is the highest unit-level award given by the South Korean government, last September.

Two months earlier, Cooper was given a Korean name -- Goo Tae-il -- from the South Korea-U.S. Alliance Friendship Association.

He will be replaced by Rear Adm. Michael Boyle, formerly director for international engagement for the Chief of Naval Office, at a change of command ceremony slated for Thursday.

Cooper will reportedly lead the Okinawa-based Task Force 76/Expeditionary Strike Group Seven, which is the 7th Fleet's amphibious force.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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