TAEGU, South Korea — The Army in lower South Korea has formed a special U.S.-Korean panel to brainstorm ways of fostering good relations between the U.S. military and the local Korean public.

Consisting of U.S. military officers and Korean local officials and professionals, it will advise the senior U.S. military commander on relations with the people of Taegu, South Korea’s third-largest city.

The senior commander, Army Col. James M. “Mike” Joyner, oversees the 20th Area Support Group at Camp Henry. He’s also commander of Area IV, the Army’s lower South Korea military district, which covers U.S. installations in Pusan, Waegwan and Taegu.

“The purpose is to promote activities that would lead to reciprocal friendship and goodwill among our communities, both the Korean communities outside our installations as well as the installations,” said Kevin Jackson, Joyner’s public affairs chief.

“We hope to have culture and arts, sporting events, humanitarian and beneficial projects, and also partnerships with schools and … universities, tours and festivals, and anything else that our council members might suggest.”

It’s part of a new South Korea-wide, public-relations initiative called the Good Neighbor Program, launched recently by the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Army Gen. Leon J. LaPorte.

The program calls for U.S. military units throughout Korea to make prompt, vigorous efforts at building good relations with local communities in their regions.

The Army has three installations in Taegu’s Nam-gu district — Camp Henry, Camp Walker and Camp George. Other key Army installations in Area IV are Camp Carroll in Waegwan and Camp Hialeah in Pusan.

The council will meet quarterly, with members airing ideas on what practical steps can be taken to build good relations between the U.S. military and the people of Taegu. Its first meeting took place June 10.

To get those suggestions moving, the 20th ASG has also formed an internal, exclusively U.S. panel called the Community Relations Coordination Council. It’s made up of 27 U.S. military and civilian heads of units and agencies within Taegu’s U.S. military community.

The CRCC will take the council’s “input” and “hash that out and start to take action on those recommendations,” Jackson said.

Lt. Col. Ronald Smith, commanding officer of the Army’s 168th Medical Battalion (Area Support) at Camp Walker, is on the Taegu panels.

“What I’m hoping is that the relationships that are strong … can actually be made stronger, that the members of the Korean community that are our friends, because of this positive interaction, tighten up that bond and make a more vital interaction,” he said.

Smith thinks much will depend on the contacts between individuals.

“The more we can get our community mixing with the ROK community on a one-to-one, person-to-person, just like people-to-people basis … just the average, ordinary people, the more we can have those relationships,” Smith said.

The 20th ASG will eventually set up similar panels at Camp Carroll and Camp Hialeah, Jackson said.

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