CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Feb. 9, 2012) -- The commander of U.S. Army Pacific was at the headquarters installation of his previous command Wednesday for a firsthand look at the significant transformations -- namely, the construction of several new facilities -- currently taking place there.
Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski's visit to Camp Zama, the home of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward), a unit he commanded from June 2008 to October 2010 before moving to USARPAC, came at the end of a tour of Army installations throughout the Pacific.
The general's first stop at Camp Zama was the construction site of a pair of buildings that will serve as the new headquarters for the Central Readiness Force, or CRF, a unit of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force currently based at Camp Asaka in Saitama, Japan. Construction is scheduled to be completed in March 2013.
Wiercinski said he had been aware of the CRF headquarters construction initiative for about four and a half years, going back to his tenure as the USARJ commander, but had only "seen it on paper."
That changed Wednesday when he donned a protective hard hat and was led by Col. Takeshi Ishimaru, commander of the JGSDF's 4th Engineer Group, to an acres-wide block of land teeming with welders, carpenters and heavy machinery operators hard at work.
"To actually see dirt, and holes in the ground, and the construction that has already happened in just a very short few months is really amazing," said Wiercinski. "[Also], to see that we're still keeping the same kind of capabilities and making sure that everyone here at (Camp) Zama has all those capabilities still available to them, it's really good to see."
Wiercinski toured other facilities on Camp Zama further along in the construction process, such as a complex that will house a new Military Clothing Sales Store, Arts and Crafts Center, and Auto Skills Shop. Construction on the building is scheduled to be completed this summer.
"It's really impressive to see all of these things that are coming to fruition -- the construction, the way the camp looks, the motivation and the passion of the people who work here," said Wiercinski. "We all call [Japan] this 'Little Jewel' out here in the Pacific that a lot of people don't know about, but does so much as an economy of force, and so much for us in the Pacific."
He went on to emphasize the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Japan, saying it is "at the highest it's ever been." The two countries' military-to-military relationship has always been extremely strong, he added, a fact that was further proved following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan last March.
"Our Soldiers from Sagamihara and Camp Zama and Okinawa all came together to help support -- that had an impact, not only on those people who were devastated on 3/11, but also to all the Japanese people," said Wiercinski. "The Japanese people [are] seeing that what we have said all along was true: We are here to help."
Wiercinski was briefed following Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno's visit to Japan and Camp Zama last month, and said the top-ranking general was "extremely impressed" with the work being done throughout USARJ.
"With the new national security strategy, [and] the president, secretary of state and secretary of defense clearly stating that the Pacific is the priority," Wiercinski said, "and watching our chief of staff come out here and learn so much and be so energized by it, it really energizes me as the commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific."