By Staff Sgt. Cashmere JeffersonJanuary 18, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Jan. 18, 2012) -- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno emphasized Hawaii's role in Asia Pacific strategy during his visit to U.S. Army Pacific's 25th Infantry Division Jan. 17.
Odierno arrived in Hawaii Jan. 15 to begin an Asia-Pacific theater tour, his first overseas trip as Army chief of staff.
Odierno said he believes Hawaii is vital as a base where the Army can use its ability to engage throughout the Pacific region.
"It enables us to have forces forward to station and deploy forces further forward if necessary," he said. "It will be critical. And the plan right now is to sustain two brigades here and a combat aviation brigade. We'll continue to review that over time but today that's what our plan is."
Odierno spent time with U.S. Army Pacific and Pacific Command senior leaders to discuss the future of the Pacific and the Army's role in the Pacific based on the roll-out of the president's new strategy.
"I thought it was important that I come here and have initial discussions so we start thinking about how we will use the Army forces here in Hawaii and all Army forces in order to support our objectives in the Pacific region," he said.
Odierno also visited brigade and company commanders, military spouses and Soldiers. He discussed leadership values, adhering to basic military standards and the future of the Army as it faces downsizing.
"I think the number of Soldiers assigned to the Pacific will be generally the same," he said. "You won't see a significant decrease here. The additional thing you'll see is that as we reduce our commitment now that we are out of Iraq and reducing our structure in Afghanistan, you'll see more of the CONUS (Continental United States) -based force who will be available to conduct operations in support of any combatant commanders, but also to support what is going on here in the Pacific."
Odierno added that as the Army continues to look forward, Army forces from CONUS will be aligned with forces from the Pacific region. Pacific Command could use these forces in order to meet requirements they have developed in the region, he said. He noted that these missions could be training exercises, military-to-military engagements or rotating forces to train company-to-company level with other nations.
He added that the support of the military by Oahu's community continues to be dynamic and growing steadily.
"I have been here before, but it's my first time as the chief," he said. "First, (I'm impressed with) how dynamic the island is and the commitment it (Oahu community) has to our military forces -- the great support that they've given (our Soldiers) as they've deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and as they continue now to pursue their mission in the Pacific is critical. So, I'm impressed with that relationship and am very happy with it and I want to thank the people of Hawaii for their great support for our Soldiers who are here."