President Obama intends to nominate Scaparrotti to replace Thurman in Korea

President Barack Obama plans to nominate Army Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti to succeed Army General James Thurman as the commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, the Defense Department said on Friday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said after that Scaparrotti is nominated, the Senate would have to confirm him for a fourth star and the position. Scaparrotti is currently the director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. Thurman, who took the post in July 2011, is retiring.

"Throughout his tenure, General Thurman has helped ensure we are always ready to respond to any contingency," Hagel said.

Hagel said that Scaparrotti is a proven combat leader. He discussed the nomination earlier in the month with South Korean President Park Geun-hye during her visit to Washington.

"In my conversation with her and other Korean leaders, I heard an outpouring of respect for General Thurman and the job he has done," Hagel said. "They are also clearly looking forward to working with General Scaparrotti."

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke highly of Scaparrotti.

"I can think of no finer officer to lead U.S. forces in Korea than Lt. Gen. Curt Scaparrotti," Dempsey said. "'Scap' is an exceptionally competent leader with the moral character to match. Like our current commander, Gen. J.D. Thurman, he is well-suited to sustaining our strong alliance with the Republic of Korea. Scap's quiet confidence has delivered success throughout his career."

There have been tensions on the Korean Peninsula during Thurman's tenure, stemming from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's threats to launch nuclear missiles at the U.S. and his allies. The recent rhetoric has calmed in the last few weeks.