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SEOUL – The next commander of U.S. Forces Korea will visit the peninsula this week, although a U.S. military spokesman says the visit is related to his current job as head of the Army Forces Command.

Gen. James Thurman will replace current USFK commander Gen. Walter Sharp when he retires this summer. As commander of AFC, the Army’s largest organization, Thurman oversees the manning, training and equipping of more than 700,000 soldiers in the U.S.

USFK spokesman David Oten said Thurman’s visit has been planned for months, and the general is meeting with U.S. military leaders as part of his AFC duties. But he also is observing portions of the ongoing Key Resolve/Foal Eagle joint military exercises.

“This is an opportunity he is going to take advantage of,” Oten said.

Thurman still must be confirmed as USFK commander by the U.S. Senate, and “in no way does this visit presuppose his confirmation,” Oten said.

Oten said Thurman will meet with some South Korean officials while in Seoul, but did not know who they were. He also could not release the dates of Thurman’s visit for security reasons.

South Korean media, citing unnamed military officials, said Thurman was visiting Seoul for consultations with military leaders on North Korean issues. A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense declined to comment.

From staff reports

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