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Four-star general to assume Fort Shafter command

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 9:15 p.m. HST, Feb 11, 2013

Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks will be taking over U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter — with a promotion to four-star general, the Pentagon announced today.

The addition of another star to the three-star job would bring the Army in the Pacific on a par with U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Pacific Command — all of which are four-star positions in Hawaii.

Brooks is currently serving as the commanding general of U.S. Army Central Command/Third U.S. Army, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Lt. Gen. Francis “Frank” Wiercinski, who has been the commander of U.S. Army Pacific since March of 2011, will be retiring.

Wiercinski was deputy commanding general for support for the 25th Infantry Division from 2005 to 2006 and the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific from 2007 to 2008.

U.S. Army Pacific’s geographic responsibilities include nearly half the globe, 36 “partner” nations, four of the world’s most populated countries and seven of the 10 largest armies in the world, officials said.

Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died in December, said last April that the senior military leaders in 25 of those 36 nations were part of their countries’ armies and had four stars, and he vowed to change U.S. Army Pacific to a similar four-star command.

“The only three-star (leader is here in Hawaii), and we’re supposed to be the superpower,” Inouye said.

He added that it was important to upgrade the U.S. Army Pacific commander to four stars in part to deal peer-to-peer with other countries who “get very sensitive about rank.”

“It’s about time we recognize the importance of this Fort Shafter, we recognize the importance of the Army, and it’s about time we get four stars (here),” Inouye said, adding, “It will be done.”

U.S. Army Pacific had four-star leaders during World War II and the Korean War, he said. Inouye said a later budget decision was made to downgrade the rank.

Brooks was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and grew up in California. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1980.

Brooks became the first black cadet in the school's history to be named cadet brigade commander — the top-ranking cadet. Brooks graduated first in his class.

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