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PACOM commander tours JBLM, briefs leaders on Indo-Asia-Pacific

20th Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 03:00PM February 28th, 2013

The military is transitioning out of Afghanistan after transferring the security lead to the Afghan National Security Forces, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, home to I Corps, is shifting its focus to the Pacific Rim.

“After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home,” said President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech last month.

“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 during his Indo-Asia-Pacific brief to JBLM leaders.

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Command got a guided tour of JBLM facilities Feb. 22 and experienced the capabilities of the Stryker armored fighting vehicles firsthand. He spoke about the military rebalancing 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 Gen. Ray 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 are preparing to support those 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 4 billion people.

Locklear said we are also progressing and strengthening our 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 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, part of the recently stood up 7th Infantry Division. They showed him what a Stryker vehicle is capable of, its weapon systems, how it operates and its 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,” Locklear said. “As things change and as the world changes, we adapt. The U.S. Army has been a leader in that adaptation.”