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SEOUL, South Korea — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates supported extending the tours of thousands of troops stationed in South Korea to three years and allowing their spouses and children to live with them during their assignments.

Gates arrived in South Korea to meet with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee to discuss strides in the two countries’ 50-plus-year alliance and changes ahead to ensure it continues fostering peace and prosperity in Asia.

Gates declared the alliance “strong and healthy” and said the Republic of Korea “remains a faithful friend and stalwart partner” and believes the South Korean military under Lee’s leadership is “one of the best-trained, best-equipped, best-led military forces in the world,” and is on track to take over wartime command of its troops in 2012 for the first time in nearly six decades, Gates said.

Gates’ endorsement adds momentum to a policy shift that will improve the quality of life for most of the 28,500 troops assigned to South Korea. For more details on this, click here or here and return back to comment.

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SEOUL, South Korea — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates supported extending the tours of thousands…