By U.S. ArmyJuly 19, 2013
General Raymond T. Odierno
Chief of Staff of the Army
July 8, 2013
General Odierno: Thank you for being here. It is so important that so many people are here today representing all of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen that reside here in the U.S. Army U.S. Pacific Command. I also want to thank all the units of the U.S. Army Pacific who are here today to represent the best of our Army. We have history on display for us today in this ceremony. Please join me to recognize these units and these leaders. (Applause).
I want to thank all of our distinguished guests that are here, especially Admiral Locklear for his great leadership out here in the Pacific. I want to thank you and Pam for all that you do for our Nation every day. Your strategic innovation and your understanding of the Asia Pacific environment and your dedication to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen makes all of us realize how fortunate we are to have such a tremendous leader as the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command. I want to especially thank you for your support to all of our great Soldiers in units that are here defending freedom out in the Asia Pacific region. So, thank you, sir, for all you do out here every single day.
I am also extremely grateful for Ms. Irene Inouye joining us today. You honor us with your presence. Senator Inouye's lifelong service to our Nation, first in the United States Army, where he earned a Medal of Honor for his service. He also gave 50 years representing the state of Hawaii in the United States Congress. He is an inspiration to me and to all of us that follow. He embodied the term service. He epitomized the dedication to a country that he loved and one that maybe didn't quite love him in the beginning. He personally led the effort to make this U.S. Army Pacific a Four Star Command. So even today, he continues to make a difference here in Hawaii. I know he is looking down on us with a very big smile as U.S. Army Pacific moves forward in executing our Nation's strategy.
I also want to welcome all of our representatives in the Senate, the Congress and the local communities, especially all of those representatives from our partner nations that are here today. You honor us with your presence. We thank you so much for being here to recognize this very important occasion. The motto of USARPAC is "One Team". That aptly describes the outstanding men and women of this Command. With over 82,000 Soldiers, and 11,500 civilians located in major subordinate commands in Korea, Japan, Alaska, Washington State and Hawaii. USARPAC remains ideally postured to support the Pacific Command in its efforts. Last year alone, U.S. Army Pacific conducted 191 partnering activities with 24 partnering nations, including 24 combined and joint exercises. These efforts not only enhance relationships, but also allow our Forces to retain the capability to respond across the theater in support of the PACOM priorities.
Lt. General Frank Wiercinski and USARPAC have worked closely with PACOM and Admiral Locklear over the last few years to begin the important work of rebalancing our Forces to the Pacific in reinforcing the Army's mission here. Frank, you have laid the groundwork for the Army support to the Pacific, and we are thankful. Thank you. You have also given us 34 years of distinguished and honorable service to our Nation and our Army. Frank Wiercinski began his career in 1980 right here in Hawaii as a Platoon leader in the 25th Infantry Division. Frank's tremendous abilities were recognized early as he was selected to become Company Commander in the 75th Ranger Regiment and led his Soldiers as they jumped into Panama.
Later he was selected to command the 6th Ranger Training Battalion, during which he implemented several changes to operations to ensure students were receiving tough, demanding, but safe training. He continued to provide incredible leadership in a variety of command and staff positions, especially in combat. Frank commanded the 187 Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in Operation Anaconda, the first large scale battle committing U.S. Forces and allied Afghan Forces against the Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the Shahi-Kot Valley of Afghanistan. I personally saw Frank in action as the Deputy Commander for support of the 25th Infantry Division in Iraq. He was instrumental in shaping the environment at a critical time during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
However, Frank's service is also marked by tremendous intellect, especially in regards to this region of the world. As the Principle Director for Near Eastern and Southeastern Affairs of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he uses experience and personal knowledge to help craft strategy for our government. His focus on the Asia Pacific region continued as the Deputy Commander of USARPAC and Commanding General of U.S. Army Japan and has culminated today with the completion of his duty as Commanding General U.S. Army Pacific.
The one constant in Frank's life during all of this has been Jeanine. They are Pennsylvania high school sweethearts, married right after Frank graduated from West Point, and she has dedicated herself and her tremendous nursing experience and her love of Army family to champion volunteers, Army health care professionals and Wounded Warriors, as well as always advocating on behalf of our Soldiers. At every community they have lived in, Jeanine has worked hard to create lasting relationships with both military families and the various communities in the United States and in many foreign countries. Jeanine, today is also about celebrating your service to our Army and our Nation, and I want to thank you so much for everything you do. (Applause).
Frank, the legacy of your service, will be felt in our Army for many years to come. You have helped us develop and implement with your leadership and strategic vision that will contribute to the success of Army units in the Pacific long after your retirement. Your work in advancing regional relationships in order to lead to unprecedented partnerships and cooperative engagements with Japan and the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the People's Republic of China just to name a few, will be a part of the foundation of the future. You have had a profound impact on thousands of Soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Officers as well as their families. You have dedicated your life to our country and our Army. We can never thank you enough for that commitment. I know that you and Jeanine plan to remain here in Hawaii after your retirement. One thing I know for sure is that both of you will continue to find ways, while out of uniform, to contribute to the greater good, the greater good of this great state, to the greater good of our country, and to the greater good of the collective security of this region. Linda and I wish you and Jeanine the very best in all your future endeavors.
We are in a critical juncture in our Nation's history. We are experiencing a time of fiscal constraints, force structure reduction, world-wide uncertainty and a continuous evolution of warfare. This is all occurring simultaneously as we wind down from over 12 years of conflict. I believe this presents us with opportunities to refocus on areas and regions that will be of significant importance to our Nation in years ahead. Our national security strategy and national military strategy calls for the rebalancing to the Asia Pacific region in recognition of how critical relationships and events in this region will help us grow as a Nation, economically, and form a sense of safer security.
The unpredictability of the Korean peninsula is a constant and with the growing importance of strengthening our diplomatic, economic and military relations with China, our military, specifically our Army, must continue to take important steps in supporting this strategy. This is true, especially with 27/28 countries in the region having their Army as the dominant military force.
America's Army will work as central and collaborative in a whole of government approach to implement this strategy in support of PACOM. This is a complex place. The mission sets for our military will range in a great variety of ways. That is why I think it is important that today we are elevating USARPAC Command to a Four Star position. It reflects the growing importance our Nation and our Army place on this region. We have significant efforts underway to ensure our Army can continue to support PACOM with First Corp working towards being a combined joint task force, partnering with the First Marine Expeditionary Force on a Pacific Symposium. We have many others that are developing plans for security force assistance and increasing their capacity to lead a team with joint service and interagency partners. We are working on increasing our pre-positioned equipment in the region to expand our capabilities, especially humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in support of Admiral Locklear's vision.
With our Nation's re-emphasis on the region, USARPAC will require a leader that can work in a joint, interagency, multi-national environment. General Vince Brooks is that combat tested leader who understands the importance to this region to our Nation, is the right Soldier to build on the great successes of Frank Wiercinski and U.S. Army Pacific into the future. He will ensure that PACOM has the right Army support it needs to accomplish their goals and vision. Having just come from being a Commander of Third Army and Army Central Forces, Vince is will aware of the responsibilities of an Army inherent in Component Command and their role in supporting the Combatant Commander. As previously stated, Vince was critically important in the Iraq retrograde, meeting Afghanistan retrograde milestones as well. He has participated in countless joint interagency intergovernmental exercises, especially with the establishment of CENTCOM headquarters in Jordan and assisting with the Syrian crisis and many others throughout the region. He has served in command staff positions in our Army all over the globe. He brings the right amount of experience, the right intellect, and the right capabilities to move us forward here in the Pacific region.
Vince, as you begin your tour as the USARPAC Commanding General, I ask you to remain vigilant and ensure our forces are trained and prepared to meet any contingency in the region. Provide tailored scalable and flexible force solutions in support of Admiral Locklear's vision, working with your other service component Commanders in order to shape the strategic environment. Continue to build important relationships with our partners, all those important ground forces around the region. I want to congratulate you. We wish you all the best as you open a new chapter in the Army's long legacy in the Asia Pacific region. I would be remiss if I did not mention Carol Brooks. Everyone here today is the beneficiary of another great Army team. Carol will add so much to U.S. Army Pacific and Hawaii. AN incredibly talented and dedicated spouse, she will, as she has everywhere she has been, impact our Soldiers and families.
I am incredibly proud of our Soldiers, their sacrifices and accomplishments. Since 2001, these young men and women have earned over 15,000 Medals of Valor, to include 7 Medals of Honor, 27 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 697 Silver Stars. These numbers continue to grow. Many of these Soldiers were and today are part of U.S. Army Pacific. Their competence, character, and commitment continue to the source if inspiration for our Army and our country. It is our solemn responsibility to ensure they are prepared, trained, ready and well led for they will be needed when the Nation calls. This is a great day for America's Army as we install a new Four Star General in Command of U.S. Army Pacific. The strength of our Nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our families. That is what makes us Army Strong. God Bless all of you. Thank you very much.
End of Remarks.