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Army to maintain force level in Asia and Pacific, chief of staff says

By William Cole

LAST UPDATED: 6:43 p.m. HST, Jan 17, 2012

The Army's force level will stay about the same in Asia and the Pacific and it will rotate extra soldiers through the region from the mainland for training, engagement and deployments as needed as the service looks to make cuts elsewhere, the chief of staff of the Army said.

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who became the 38th Army chief of staff on Sept. 7, made the comment today during a stop in Hawaii and as he heads to South Korea and Japan.
"I think the number of soldiers assigned to the Pacific will be generally the same," Odierno said. "You won't see a significant decrease here, and the additional thing you'll see is as we reduce our commitments — now that we're out of Iraq, and now that we're reducing our structure in Afghanistan, you'll see more of the (continental)-based 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." 
The Army maintains about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea, 23,000 in Hawaii, 2,700 in Japan and 13,000 in Alaska, according to U.S. Army Pacific.
Hawaii is "critical" to the Army, Odierno said repeatedly, and "the plan right now" is to maintain Stryker armored vehicle, infantry and aviation brigades at Schofield Barracks.
Hawaii is used to "engage throughout the Pacific region, so it's critical to what we do," Odierno said. "It enables us to have forces forward-stationed and it enables us to deploy forces even farther forward if necessary, so it will be critical." 

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