By CAPT. TIM IRVIN
North Korea’s invasion of the Republic of Korea June 25, 1950, prompted U.S. President Harry S. Truman to order U.S. ground forces into South Korea on June 27. Three long years later on July 27, 1953, the Korean War armistice was signed, ending the three-year conflict. The Armistice allowed South Korea to finally be a free republic and to continue the alliance with the U.S. To this day, South Korea is one of the closest allies of the U.S. Army.
This alliance is not limited to the South Korean peninsula. The shared efforts of the U.S. and the ROK are being worked right here at Fort Knox.
On March 17, members of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command met with members of the Republic of Korea Army to discuss a common goal, downsizing.
With the Iraq campaign complete and Afghanistan operations scheduled to end this year, the U.S. Army plans to undergo many changes, including a drawdown. Over the next few years, many Soldiers will be transitioning to civilian life, some involuntarily.
“We have great respect for what our Soldiers have done in the last 12 years. It’s a tough job, but we must downsize to maintain the quality of force for our nation,” said Brig. Gen. William Gayler, director of HRC’s Officer Personnel Management Directorate. “It is difficult to ask people to depart, but we will do it with the dignity and respect due to our Soldiers.”
The Korean delegates were interested in discussing these very types of difficulties with their American counterparts as they will soon be facing the same issues.
“The Korean army has a plan to reduce its size so we must maintain quality as well. We are here to compare your systems and processes,” said Brig. Gen. Hyowook Ko, chief of Task Force, G-1, Republic of Korea.
Asking American Soldiers to leave the Army is only one part of the drawdown. The careers of the Soldiers that stay must still be managed. As the American Army gets smaller, more will be asked of these Soldiers. More responsibility almost always means promotions.
“Promotions must be performed in a fair and accurate matter because we have so much ahead of us. Great things will be asked of our Soldiers in the future,” Gayler said. “We are in the process of improving our systems. As our Army gets smaller, we must retain the best Soldiers.”
Soldiers and civilians from HRC’s Evaluations, Selections and Promotions Division explained the evaluations, promotions and Department of the Army Selection Board process to South Korean soldiers.
“Our goal was to show the delegation how our selection board process works,” said Maj. Scott Smith, executive officer of the DA Secretariat for DA Selection Boards. “We walked them through a mock colonel promotion board, including the voting system we use to conduct selection boards.”
Smith said the ROK officers were very interested in the method of selecting board members.
“The selection criteria was explained to them, and the process of notifying and hosting the board members was discussed,” said Smith. “They were also interested in how select objectives are established and how the order of merit list is used to identify who is selected based on the needs of the Army.”
During their time at HRC, the ROK officers were briefed on how the American Army’s evaluation systems work. After lunch, they received an overview of the U.S. Army’s promotion system and how promotion boards are conducted.
“Human Resource (management) is very important (to us), especially considering our current situation and national security,” Ko said.