Navy SEAL takes command of US naval forces in South Korea
A Navy special warfare officer and former operations director for the Joint Special Operations Command has taken charge of U.S. naval assets in the Korean Peninsula.
Rear Adm. Mark Schafer, a Navy SEAL, became the latest commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea on Wednesday, relieving Rear Adm. Buzz Donnelly, a former aircraft carrier commander who served in the position for two years.
“I am excited and honored to be carrying on the legacy of this command and its rich history that dates back to its establishment in July 1957,” Schafer said during the ceremony at the headquarters of South Korea’s navy, according to a press release. “The superiority of the combined team is a testament to Rear Adm. Donnelly’s leadership.”
In departing remarks, Donnelly said he “could not have asked for a more professionally or personally rewarding experience here in Korea,” according to the release. He was awarded the Legion of Merit during the change-of-command ceremony by U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Paul LaCamera.
“I am confident in the team that Rear Adm. Schafer is inheriting and am excited for what the future holds for the Forces and Region teams under his leadership,” Donnelly said.
Schafer represents all Navy assets on the Korean Peninsula and acts as a liaison between the two allies’ navies. The New York native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1994 and has served with SEAL Team 2, SEAL Team 4 and the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.
Roughly 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea. The U.S. Navy has one installation on the peninsula, Chinhae Naval Base, near Busan on the southern coast. About 300 personnel are assigned there.