Attendees learn Korean peninsula issues at forum|
by Rebecca Burylo
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
1/24/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Community leaders gathered at the Air War College on Jan. 16 for the first River Region Forum of 2014, where guest speaker, Maj. Gen. Brian Bishop, shed light on the Korean conflict - a topic that has often been shadowed in obscurity.
The River Region Forum is a quarterly event allowing civic leaders, county commissioners, city council members and local legislators to visit Maxwell and gain understanding of current and past installation initiatives and Maxwell's global military role.
Before assuming command of the Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education, a large part of Bishop's career was tied to the delicate relational maintenance between South Korea and North Korea.
Sharing insights from Bishop's previous assignments working alongside the United Nations to safeguard the Korean peninsula with civic and military leaders was the goal of the forum, according to Lt. Gen. David Fadok, commander and president of the Air University.
"For those of you who don't know, prior to his arrival at Maxwell, Maj. Gen. Bishop was the deputy chief of staff, United Nations Command and United States Forces Korea, and had an interesting time shaping the history of the peninsula," Fadok said during the introduction.
The forum enlightened Craig Baab, a Montgomery attorney present at the event, to the scope of the Korean conflict, as well as the knowledge base being developed at Maxwell and Gunter.
"I think it's important for the folks in the River Region to know and understand that this [Maxwell] is an intellectual base of what goes on certainly in the Air Force, and I would argue even broader than most of us don't know and didn't know," Baab explained.
Bishop said the reason why the Korean War is known as the "The Forgotten War" or the "Unknown War" is because it has never been completely resolved.
The Korean Armistice Agreement, signed in 1953, has only subdued the military conflict. The armistice divided the region into northern communist control and southern democratic control along the 38th parallel. This line has been delicately maintained for more than six decades.
In the most recent of his three tours in Korea, Bishop monitored armistice adherence and assisted the United Nations in attempting to soothe the deep-seeded mistrust between the two Korean nations.
Maintaining the integrity of the Korean region is paramount to national security and the global economy, Bishop said. "We acknowledge that anything that happens in the Korean peninsula is so entwined economically with the region that it's going to impact the world's economy. The Republic of Korea is an important ally and important to our U.S. national security," he said.
There are currently 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as a defense against larger surrounding countries and militaries boasting nuclear and biological weapons, Bishop said. The South Korean citizens are grateful for the United States' military presence and have been able to flourish as one of the world's fastest-growing economies with a population of 48 million people, he said.
"South Korea is an amazing picture of what can actually be achieved when you allow a nation to put democratic policies in place and develop their economy," Bishop said.