By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. OdiernoJanuary 24, 2012
(Introduction) GENERAL RAYMOND T. ODIERNO: First I wanted to welcome home the headquarters of the 25th Infantry Division and General Champoux. But while I'm here I also wanted to spend time with U.S. Army Pacific as well as Pacific Command as we talk about and discuss the future of the Pacific the future of the Army role in the Pacific based on the roll out of the President's strategy. I thought it was important that I come here and have an initial discussion with them so we start thinking about how we will use the Army forces here and all Army forces in order to support our objectives here in the Pacific region. So with that I'm again glad to be here and will be happy to take your questions.
Q: Thank you General. You mentioned Asia and the Pacific and we're looking at an emphasis on the region but significant budget cuts are coming. Will there be more Soldiers in the Pacific, the same number of Soldiers in the Pacific or fewer Soldiers in the Pacific.
GEN. ODIERNO: I would say… Let me talk about in several different ways. I think the numbers of Soldiers assigned in the Pacific will be generally the same. You won't see a significant decrease here. And the additional thing you'll see is as we reduce our commitment now that we're out of Iraq and now that we're reducing our structure in Afghanistan you'll see more of the CONUS base force who will be available to conduct operations in support of any of the combatant commanders but also to support what's going on here in the Pacific. And that's part of the message that I brought here today that as we continue to look to the future that Army forces from the continental United States will be missioned and aligned over time with the Pacific region as well.
Q: Does that mean that they will be transiting through Hawaii and Japan?
GEN. ODIERNO: What I mean is so they'd be available forces that if asked they'd be available for use by PACOM by Pacific Command in order to meet requirements they might have developed throughout the region.
Q: But not necessarily training but deployments?
GEN. ODIERNO: No, it could be a range of things, could be mil to mil, military to military engagements, it could be training exercises, it could be rotating forces, small level forces to train company to company with other nations, it's those types of things that we think we might be able to do.
Q: Would there be an increase in that sense of soldiers?
GEN. ODIERNO: What I would say is I think you'll see the same amount of force that are here today stationed and then in certain times there will be other forces that we would use that would be available to help to develop the mission that we see in the future in Pacific Command.
Q: General, what is the biggest threat to the U.S. in the region?
GEN. ODIERNO: Well I mean as you look it today we obviously have concern about North Korea as we watch the transition in it's leadership. So, we're obviously watching that very carefully. We keep a close eye on it. It seems to be stable for now, but that's something that we watch very very carefully.
Q: Are we beefing up our presence in North and South Korea?
GEN. ODIERNO: Again our presence in South Korea will remain the same we have agreements with the Republic of Korea and the government and we will continue to sustain those agreements. Again as we continue to reduce our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan that will make more force available for Korea if necessary.
Q: What are your challenges here in the region?
GEN. ODIERNO: Well again as I come here it's a dynamic region. It's a region that continues to grow. It grows economically. It's about our alliances, it's about us supporting Pacific Command and maintaining our alliances, maintaining our bilateral relationships. So it's important that we continue to do that. Cause we are a Pacific nation and it's important to us that we sustain these relationships over time.
Q: General, how important is Hawaii and will, we've got basically three brigades, we've got you know aviation, Stryker, and infantry. How important is Hawaii and will Hawaii keep those three brigades ?
GEN. ODIERNO: Well, Hawaii is critical. It's a base where we use as our ability to engage throughout the Pacific region, and so it's critical to what we do. It enables us to have forces forward station and it enables us deploy forces even further forward if necessary so it will be critical. And the plan right now is to sustain two brigades here and a portion of the combat aviation briga.. and the combat aviation brigade. We'll continue to review that over time but today that's what our plan is.
Q: General this is your first visit to Hawaii, what's your general impression, your experiences, where have you visited?
GEN. ODIERNO: Well I have been here before but it's my first time as the Chief. But its, first, how dynamic the island is and how it continues to grow. The commitment it has to our military forces and the great relationship that we continue to see between the community and the Army forces here is really critical. The great support that they've given them as they've deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and as they continue now to prosecute their missions 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 that are here.
MODERATOR: We have time for one more question. Anybody?
Q: Budget cuts, downsizing (inaudible)?
GEN. ODIERNO: The Army's gonna get smaller. As part of this budget cuts next week the budget will be released and we'll start to discuss the exact size but there is gonna be a reduction in the army. The Army was increased so we could do long term stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that those are… Iraq is finished and Afghanistan is continuing to downsize that now allows us to begin to downsize the army. But the Army will continue to sustain significant capacity and capability to respond anywhere it's needed around the world.
Q: Can I just ask, is there a bare minimum number that you, a bare minimum that you feel is necessary for the Army to do its job?
GEN. ODIERNO: Well again, I feel confident with the numbers that we'll have coming out of this budget review and I believe with the number that we have, we have sufficient capability to meet the needs of our strategy. So, thank you very much I appreciate it.