US Naval Forces Korea Changes Command
US Naval Forces Korea Changes Command
BUSAN, Republic of Korea (June 8, 2023) -- Capt. Neil Koprowski relieved Rear Adm. Mark Schafer as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) and Commander, Navy Region Korea (CNRK) during a change of command ceremony at the Republic of Korea (ROK) Fleet base in Busan, June 8.
The ceremony marked the 38th time CNFK has changed command since its establishment July 1, 1957.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott Pleus, Commander, 7th Air Force; Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea, gave Schafer a fond farewell.
“You’ve led CNFK with honor and you have truly strengthened the alliance,” Pleus said, “As they say in the Navy, we wish you ‘fair winds and following seas.’”
Pleus then welcomed Koprowski saying, “Neil, you are inheriting an amazing team. I have no doubt you will lead them proudly with trust and with a bold commitment to the alliance.”
He went on to say, “It’s a privilege to see our team stand together to maintain the 70-year Armistice, promote stability and prosperity in the region, and be ready to fight tonight if necessary. We can only accomplish that by working together as a joint, combined team.”
During the ceremony, Pleus, presented Schafer with the Legion of Merit award for his achievements while serving in Korea on behalf of Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Samuel Paparo. In a separate ceremony June 6, Schafer also received the Order of National Security Merit Cheon-su Medal from ROK Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lee Jong-Ho. After receiving the award from Pleus, Schafer spoke to the crowd of more than 300 assembled U.S. and ROK military personnel and civilian guests and thanked his staff for their hard work.
“I continue to be most impressed by how this command adapts to the mission at hand, thrives in the collaboration with ROK Fleet, and connects with each other in work, PT, and liberty,” said Schafer, “I’m grateful every day to join hard-working Sailors who strive to be smart as a learning organization and tough as a resilient team.”
Schafer served as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea since September of 2021 and will next assume command of Special Operations Joint Task Force – Central (SOJTF-C) in Al Udeid, Qatar.
Having concluded his remarks, Schafer read his orders, officially transferring command to Koprowski.
In his remarks to the crowd, Koprowski expressed his excitement to join the U.S Naval Forces/ Navy Region team and to continue Schafer’s work of strengthening the friendship between the ROK and U.S. Navies.
Koprowski said, “In my recent meetings with Admiral Schafer, I’ve been impressed by the energy and professionalism of our team of professional U.S. and ROK Sailors. This only strengthens my belief in our great alliance.”
CNFK is the U.S. Navy’s representative in the Republic of Korea, providing leadership and expertise in naval matters to improve institutional and operational effectiveness between the two navies and to strengthen collective security efforts in Korea and the region.
CNRK provides shore installation management and support to Navy activities throughout the Republic of Korea. CNRK exercises military command over Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae, the only U.S. Navy installation in Korea.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, visit the website.
Capt. Neil Koprowski assumes the duties and responsibilities as Commander, Naval Forces Korea from Rear Adm. Mark Schafer. This change of command ceremony, a feature of long-standing naval traditions, completes the shifting of authority and responsibility for US Naval Forces Korea and US Navy Region Korea to our 39th Commander, Capt. Neil Koprowski. CNFK continues to stand with, expand and reinforce our ties with our Republic of Korea allies as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of our alliance.
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