Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Tharp’s Korea assignments during his 28 years on active duty include Chief of the Policy Planning and Operations, Directorate of Plans and Policy (C5) at the ROK-US CFC (2002-2004); Assistant Secretary (1998-2002) and Language Division Chief (1994-1996), UNC Military Armistice Commission where he met extensively with North Korean and Chinese military officers at the Joint Security Area-Panmunjom; Platoon Leader/Company Executive Officer of Company C, 1st Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment (1982-1984) where he spent 20 weeks on the DMZ leading reconnaissance and ambush patrols.
Steve initially came to Korea in July 1979 where he served as a reconnaissance squad leader in the 1st Battalion 23rd Infantry (1979-1980) and a staff NCO at the 2nd Division Headquarters (1980-1981). He was trained in Chinese (Mandarin) (1990-1992) and Korean (1992-1993) before attending the Korean Army Staff College in Chinhae as an exchange student-officer (1994).
Steve’s other infantry assignments include: Commander, Company B, 2nd Battalion 7th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA (1987-1989); Rifle Platoon Leader, Company C (1985) and Headquarters Company Executive Officer (1984), 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, GA. His initial Army assignment was as a rifleman and team leader in the 2nd Battalion 505th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division (1976-1979). He also served as the Ranger Coordinator, Fort Stewart, GA (1985-1987); and at the Defense Language Institute, Presidio of Monterey, as the Associate Dean, Asian School II (Korean) (1997-1998) and Battalion Executive Officer, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion (1996-1997).
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Tharp is a graduate of the following US Army schools: Command and Staff College (1990); Combined Arms Services Staff School (1989); Infantry Officer Advanced Course (1989); Jumpmaster Course (1984); Infantry Mortar Platoon Officer Course (1982); Infantry Officer Basic Course (1982); Officer Candidate School (1982); Ranger Course (honor graduate) (1978); Infantry Advanced Individual Training; (1976); and the basic Airborne Course (1975). His military awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Civilian Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, the Korea Service Medal, US Army Korean Civilian Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab.
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Tharp’s civilian education includes an M.A. in Asian Studies, University of Hawaii (1992); a certificate in Teaching Foreign Languages (Chinese), Monterey Institute of International Studies (1998); and a B.S. in Business Management, University of Maryland (1987). He also served as an adjunct professor at Yonsei’s Underwood International College teaching Asian Studies and Korean War courses (2004-2007). He is married with no children.