By Sgt. Ryan Hallock, 20th Public Affairs DetachmentFebruary 26, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (Feb. 26, 2013) -- "After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home."
Millions of Americans across the country heard the commander in chief's message during the State of the Union Address.
The military is transitioning out of Afghanistan after transferring the security lead to the Afghan National Security Forces, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, known as JBLM, home to I Corps, is shifting its focus to the Pacific Rim.
"We can't stay Middle East focused completely forever because it's kind of misshaping our perspective on our national security interests as we look at the rest of the world," said Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, during his Indo-Asia-Pacific brief to JBLM leaders.
Locklear toured the facilities of JBLM Feb. 22, and experienced the capabilities of the Stryker armored fight vehicles firsthand. He spoke about the military re-balancing in the Pacific and I Corps' future role in the region.
"This is one of the largest and most complete joint bases that we have in the U.S. joint force," said Locklear. "We're happy it's in the Pacific Northwest because of its geographic location and its strategic location as it relates to the Pacific theater. I'm really happy the Army had the vision to reassign I Corps to the PACOM area of responsibility."
Locklear said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno's decision to regionally align I Corps with PACOM is exactly the right thing to do.
PACOM is charged with strengthening and advancing alliances and partnerships in the region, and JBLM and I Corps is preparing to support their efforts.
"We need to revitalize those alliances because they are important to us," Locklear said of Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia and the Philippines. "These five alliances are embedded in the historical fabric of our country. We need to ensure those alliances go forward."
PACOM's area of responsibility extends from California to India, or as Locklear refers to it, from Hollywood to Bollywood. This massive chunk of Earth represents seven of the 10 largest armies in the world and is home to around four billion people.
Locklear said the U.S. is also progressing and strengthening its partnership with India, a country that doesn't have an alliance with the United States but does have a lot in common.
"They have a huge Army, so we're probably going to be spending some time with India and developing our capabilities together," said Locklear.
After his address to JBLM leaders, Locklear met with Soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, part of the recently stood up 7th Infantry Division. They showed him what a Stryker is capable of, their weapon systems, how it operates, and their mission effectiveness.
"There's a wide range of contingencies that you're going to have to adapt your forces to be able to respond to," said Locklear. "As things change and as the world changes, we adapt. The U.S. Army has been a leader in that adaptation."