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Canadian three-star general takes office as deputy UNC chief

All Headlines 19:01 July 30, 2018

By Song Sang-ho

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea, July 30 (Yonhap) -- A Canadian three-star Army general took office as the first non-American deputy commander of the United Nations Command (UNC) on Monday, underscoring the command's ongoing efforts for "revitalization."

During a change-of-responsibility ceremony, Lieut. Gen. Wayne D. Eyre assumed the mantle, which had been dominated by U.S. officers since the command's inception in 1950 during the Korean War. He replaced Lieut. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, the current commander of the U.S. 7th Air Force.

"This (UNC) revitalization is an important move towards transforming international commitments to the Korean Peninsula security," Eyre said during the ceremony at Camp Humphreys, a sprawling U.S. military complex in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

"I am excited to execute your intent and help shape this journey toward enduring peace and stability," he added, referring to UNC commander Gen. Vincent Brooks, who depicted Eyre's appointment as part of UNC "transformational" or revitalization endeavors.

Lieut. Gen. Wayne D. Eyre, the deputy commander of the United Nations Command, speaks during a change-of-responsibility ceremony at Camp Humphreys, a sprawling U.S. military complex in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 30, 2018. (Yonhap)

While underscoring its role as the "enforcer of the armistice and enabler of dialogue with North Korea," the UNC has been seeking to transform itself through various endeavors, including bringing in more members from the 16 "Sending States" that sent combat forces to Korea under the U.N. flag during the 1950-53 war.

With its headquarters having recently relocated to Pyeongtaek from Yongsan, Seoul, the UNC consists of members from South Korea, the United States and the Sending States. The UNC oversees the armistice that halted the Korean War.

As part of the UNC revitalization program, a change is set to take place in positions other than the deputy commander post, Brooks said.

"Now to meet our transformational efforts, we will do this three times. The position of the deputy commander is the first," he said during his congratulatory remarks for Eyre.

"The position of the chief of staff for the UNC will be second, and that will occur in the month of August. And the position of the senior member of the Military Armistice Commission will be the last one done in the September or October timeframe," he added.

Brooks indicated that other senior UNC posts will be staffed by those who can focus solely on UNC missions rather than wearing several other hats like himself. Brooks now heads three commands, the U.S. Forces Korea, the UNC, the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

Eyre gave several reasons a Canadian three-star officer had taken the deputy commander post.

"Firstly and quite simply, the United States asked. Over the last century and plus, our militaries have served together as a force of good around the world and enjoyed tremendous cooperation indeed in many cases integration back in North America," he said.

"Secondly, it is for national interests firmly rooted in our defense policy published last year titled 'Strong, Secure and Engaged.' Beefing up our contingent here, it is a tangible manifestation of the nation's increasing commitment as a reliable player in the region through consistent engagement and strong partnership," he added.

For another reason, the new deputy commander pointed out that the "blood of our heroes was split into the soil here in Korea."

"The delight and pride that our veterans and families feel when they see the success that South Korea has become provides meaning to their sacrifice. Now for me, those sacrifices have a special personal significance," he said.

During his congratulatory remarks, the UNC commander pointed to Canada's commitment to the UNC.

"Lieut. Gen. Eyre in the Canadian Army and 14 other officers formed the Canadian contingent now within the UNC headquarters. We have seen a tremendous commitment by the government of Canada," he said.

Gen. Vincent Brooks, the commander of the United Nations Command, speaks during a ceremony at Camp Humphreys, a sprawling U.S. military complex in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 30, 2018. (Yonhap)

"Gen. Eyre, we gained a highly experienced warrior with multiple operational deployments and extensive command experience. His knowledge of multinational operations and his personal traits of being energetic, inquisitive and a quick study will be highly beneficial to the UNC," he added.

Eyre joined the Army Cadets at age 12 and has been in uniform since then. He attended the Royal Roads Military College and Royal Military College. He has undertaken a variety of overseas missions in Cyprus, Croatia and Afghanistan.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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