Subscribe
South Korean journalists and professors get a close look at an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane Friday at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The plane is with the 25th Fighter Squadron, part of Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing. The group visited the base as part of a seminar on South Korean security sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

South Korean journalists and professors get a close look at an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane Friday at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The plane is with the 25th Fighter Squadron, part of Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing. The group visited the base as part of a seminar on South Korean security sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

South Korean journalists and professors get a close look at an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane Friday at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The plane is with the 25th Fighter Squadron, part of Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing. The group visited the base as part of a seminar on South Korean security sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

South Korean journalists and professors get a close look at an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane Friday at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The plane is with the 25th Fighter Squadron, part of Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing. The group visited the base as part of a seminar on South Korean security sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

1st Lt. Jeff Burley, right, an A-10 pilot with the wing’s 25th Fighter Squadron answers questions about the aircraft for the visiting South Korean journalists and professors.

1st Lt. Jeff Burley, right, an A-10 pilot with the wing’s 25th Fighter Squadron answers questions about the aircraft for the visiting South Korean journalists and professors. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — As part of a seminar on South Korea’s security sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, a group of South Korean journalists and scholars got an up-close look at U.S. forces during base visits last week.

While the embassy periodically hosts similar security-related events, last week’s was the first devoted exclusively to the U.S.–South Korean military alliance and related security issues, said Carolyn B. Glassman, regional program officer with the embassy’s public affairs section.

“Security is of foremost importance to us in Korea … and it’s also of keen interest to many of our contacts throughout the country. So we feel the time was right, in fact, overdue, for putting together a seminar like this.”

One of the visits was to Osan Air Base, the largest air base in South Korea. It lies 48 miles south of Korea’s Demilitarized Zone and is home to the 51st Fighter Wing, the most forward-based permanent wing in the U.S. Air Force.

The group — 15 journalists and eight university professors — attended a luncheon briefing at the Osan Challenger Enlisted Club. The briefing covered the 51st Fighter Wing’s mission, as well as general information about the base, including facts about its modern gym and various major construction projects.

Col. Steven R.F. Searcy, wing vice commander, briefed the group; his remarks were translated into Korean. Searcy, a 1981 Air Force Academy graduate, is a fighter pilot with combat experience in the Persian Gulf War and other conflicts.

Later, the group toured a flight simulator and then walked out onto the parking ramp of Osan’s 25th Fighter Squadron for a close look at an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane.

Earlier Friday, in Seoul, the visitors were part of a larger group of journalists and scholars who were briefed by the top U.S. military commander in Korea, Army Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, at his “White House” headquarters on Yongsan Garrison.

With LaPorte’s briefing covering the broader security picture, the trip to Osan was seen as a way to help participants “to round out their knowledge of the security situation in Korea,” Glassman said.

At Osan, the guests saw a satellite photo showing the Korean Peninsula at night. South Korea was aglow with the lights of its flourishing cities and towns, but North Korea lay in almost complete darkness, the main patch of light emanating from its capital, Pyongyang.

Searcy drew applause in explaining the 51st Fighter Wing’s mission.

“So our job is to protect, and keep these [lights] on, in South Korea,” he said.

Chung Seo-hwan, an editorial writer with the Busan Ilbo, said the photo should be used to instruct South Korea’s youth, who, he said, are largely unaware of or dismissive of the concerns that many older South Koreans harbor about a North Korean military threat.

The group ended their Osan tour with a stop at the Osan Shopping Mall, which opened Saturday, becoming the largest AAFES exchange in South Korea.

The seminar provided useful insights into South Korea’s security picture, said Lee Seung-keun, a professor in the Department of Politics and Diplomacy at Keimyung University in Taegu.

“This is very important for the scholars and the journalists,” Lee said. “Our alliance between Korea and U.S., the tightness of alliances, that’s very important, because we are scholars, and specialists in the media. And after this seminar we can explain how the two countries build the tight alliance.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now