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Commander says Army is back in the Pacific

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:04 a.m. HST, May 31, 2013

The U.S. Army is back in the Pacific region after more than a decade of deploying soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq, the outgoing top Army commander in the region says.

All four brigades of the 25th Infantry Division, which are based in Alaska and Hawaii, aren't scheduled to go to the Middle East, Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski said this week. The I Corps, a command based in Washington state that includes three Stryker brigades, is refocusing on the Pacific.

"For the last 11 to 12 years, the (Pacific Command) commander has not had his Army arrow in his quiver. We've been rotating into the Middle East. You've either been prepping for that or you're been there or you've been recovering. And the PACOM commander didn't have an Army. He has an Army now," Wiercinski said in an interview Thursday at his Fort Shafter headquarters.

Wiercinski spoke about a month before he's due to hand over command of U.S. Army Pacific to Lt. Gen. Vincent Brooks on July 2.

The return of soldiers to the region comes as the Obama administration rebalances its forces to the Pacific in recognition of China's growing military power and the importance of the region to U.S. national security.

The availability of the soldiers has allowed the Army to match units with similarly skilled counterparts in other countries, Wiercinski said.

For example, northern warfare expert soldiers based in Alaska, trained in cold mountainous terrain, have been matched up with Everest climbers in Nepal's military.

"They have something to talk about. They have something to train about. There's a camaraderie already built in," Wiercinski said.

Alaska-based soldiers have also been aligned with partners in Mongolia, northern India, northern Japan and southern New Zealand.

The "jungle fighters" of the 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii have been matched up with counterparts in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines.

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false wrote:
So after meddling in the affairs of people in the Middle East and Central Asia, the US is now turning its attention to Asia, a place which has benefited from our "benign neglect" since we got defeated in Vietnam. So which Asian countries are we planning to mess up?

Oh, I see. The Philippines, where we killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos fighting for their independence at the beginning of the 20th Century and then we propped up the Marcos dictatorship. Indonesia, a country we encouraged to attack East Timor when they sought independence, where the elite Indonesian "security" forces, Kopassus, savagely murdered tens of thousands of Timor residents. Kopassus is still active and is once again being armed by the US government after Congress once cut off military aid due to their horrible record on human rights.

Maybe, instead of "pivoting towards Asia," the US government should "pivot" towards home, scale back our overseas bases, stop meddling in other countries affairs, stop trying to impose a new world order based upon domination by the largest banks and corporations. Maybe we should do some "nation-building" in the United States for a change?

on May 31,2013 | 10:54AM
kauai wrote:
Some valid points there. That being said, history has shown that the last time we adopted an "isolationist" philosophy, some bad characters were allowed to grow in power which led to world wars. The fact is, we are now a global, interconnected world, which means we better pay attention to external events and activities, and take action when necessary. Diplomacy and peaceful resolution is always preferable, but sometimes there are only so many carrots to hand out and at some point a stick becomes necessary. Also largely unseen is the on-going assymetric warfare being perpetrated against us as we speak. Make no mistake, this kind of activity (computer hacking) is occurring right now, in realtime. Are we going to sit back and do nothing while the bad actors continue probing and pillaging our (computer) resources? I think not and it would be foolish to do so (sit back, that is).
on May 31,2013 | 11:39AM
false wrote:
Kauai, I am not advocating isolationism. I am advocating support for international law. At the end of WWII, the US encouraged the growth of the United Nations and the World Court, recognizing when nations try to impose their own order on the affairs of other countries, it can easily escalate into wider warfare. While we havee a neighborhood watch in my community, we still rely upon the police and the courts instead of unilaterally beating up on, or shooting, people we think are misbehaving.

The US has scoffed at international law and neutral, multi-lateral organizations like the UN, except when it is convenient. We explicitly told the World Court that we would refuse to recognize their authority over us when, correctly, the Court ruled the United States had been illegally supporting terrorist attacks against Nicaragua. While President Obama is much more diplomatic than George Bush, it is not yet clear US foreign policy has changed much. The "pivot towards Asia" appears designed around a plan not so different from the "SEATO, NATO, CENTO" regional security alliances of the Cold War. In this case, the US is trying to build a broad alliance against China. I do not believe it makes sense to have NO deterrent against the Chinese, But the scale of what we are doing, while profitable for military contractors at VERY high rates, is weakening our economy over all. The so-called "aggressive moves" by the Chinese in recent years pale in comparison with what the US has actually done in our own very recent past.

on May 31,2013 | 12:04PM
kauai wrote:
The UN, while admirable in theory, certainly has issues in practice. The waste, fraud and abuse of funds and programs (sound familiar? --like the state of Hawaii and the US fed. gov.) is disappointing, to say the least. The UN is also subject to political manipulation and overreach of it's authority (like trying to take control of the internet, which is still on-going), which makes it certainly less than neutral. Does China deserve to get a pass on their " so-called "aggressive moves" " just because their actions " pale in comparison with what the US has actually done in our own very recent past "? I think not. To put it bluntly, they are stealing our ideas, technology and know-how for the benefit of their own companies and military. What are we to do? Complain to the WTO and World Court and hope that they rule in our favor before all our ideas, tech and patents are stolen? Words are nice, but sometimes actions speak louder than words and actions may be the only thing that protects our interest and our nation.
on May 31,2013 | 03:14PM
Mythman wrote:
NEWS FLASH: The US passed Saudi Arabia in production of crude oil this year and passed Russia in production of natural gas. New World Order? Not any more.
on May 31,2013 | 01:38PM
false wrote:
Mythman, Not sure what your point is. The world is increasingly being integrated into a global economy, with rules being negotiated by banks and corporations, with governments agreeing to yield over their sovereignty to unelected bodies, capable of overruling those countries laws. Google the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" agreement which is being negotiated in secret as we discuss this.

Is the "new world order." The new world order that Bush Senior talked about was not an illuminatti conspiracy. It was the wealthy elites working together to agree upon a system of governance which served their interests. The nation-state is a convenient fiction. It is not the UN or the World Court which has taken over. It is the WTO, the World Bank that run everything. We are small ants arguing over bills in the state legislature, the city council or even in Congress, unaware the major power resides outside and ABOVE these bodies.

Big deal if "the United States produces more oil." What does that mean? That transnational corporations extract more oil from within the boundaries of the United States? Those aren't "American" companies, so why should we celebrate? British Petroleum, Dutch Shell? Even the alleged American ones are owned by wealthy investors from around the world. "Oil self-sufficency" is a joke. And it is odd they have broadened the slogan to speak of "North America" as being "self-sufficient, as if Canada is now part of the US. And what of Mexico? That is part of "North America" as well. Or is North America defined by racial terms?

on May 31,2013 | 09:03PM
Sunny wrote:
This will bode well for Hawaii's economy!
on May 31,2013 | 11:32AM
false wrote:

Taiwan was notorious for building their export economy based upon stolen technology. They did not respect US copyrights or patents and were undercutting American manufacturers with their knock-offs. I didn't hear much talk at the time of going to war against Taiwan. Samsung and Apple have been having billion dollar lawsuits against each other for patent infringements. It has gotten quite difficult to figure who is staeling what from whom. But corporations are pressing their claims against each other, though each appears to have borrowed quite a bit from each other.

US copyrights once were written for a very short duration, but Congress extended them in order to allow Disney and other huge companies the right to exclusive control long after the copyrights were scheduled to expire and go into the public domain. Was that a "theft" from the public? The mega-giant seed-chemical companies, like Monsanto (are they "American," I dunno) have taken seeds of the basic foodstuffs, tweaked the DNA, patented the GE food, and then tried to use their dominant market position to gain exclusive control of the market. The idea is to force farmers, whose ancestors have raised these crops for generations, to have to pay royalties on future use of the seeds, even though the observable effect of this action is to drive small farmers out of business around the world. From one point of view, that is theft. And not just of ideas, but of the right to subsistence food and agriculture.

The Chinese have been hacking into western computer systems and the fact has been publicized. Here is a suggestion. Virtually all modern intelligence services are hacking into the systems of each other, exploring and finding out whatever they can. It is not just the Chinese. And the US and the Israelis have been using their hacking skills against the security systems of other countries as well.

on May 31,2013 | 08:50PM
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