By Staff Sgt. Amber Robinson
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Aug. 22, 2012) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh came to Hawaii Aug 20 to discuss operations throughout the Pacific and to announce the next U.S. Army Pacific deputy commanding general for operations.
McHugh, who had previous stops in Turkey, Mongolia and Korea, culminated his trip in Hawaii where he spent time with U.S. Army Pacific, or USARPAC, Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Roger F. Mathews, who provided a snapshot of current and projected Army operations in the Pacific.
"There was a lot of talk about our new strategic rebalancing toward the Pacific region," said McHugh. "That's a program that the chief of staff of the Army General [Ray] Odierno, and I were fortunate enough to be involved with."
"We are going to continue to do what we need to do to work on a regional basis, he continued. "When we talk about the United States interest in the Pacific region, our concern is peace and stability and economic opportunity. We don't view that as an America-only objective; we think it's critical that we work with all the nations of this region to pursue what I hope are the goals that everyone shares."
McHugh bolstered the recent announcement by Wiercinski that the Australian Defence Force will assign an Army officer as the deputy commanding general for operations, Maj. Gen. Richard Maxwell Burr.
"We look forward to Major General Burr leading up our efforts in exercises and training," said Mathews. "He has extensive experience in the region and is very familiar with U.S. formations and how we train, so we can really capitalize on him as a regional expert and somebody who can understand the training and the intricacies of dealing with allies in the region, so it's a huge win and a huge plus for us."
The Army has a long history of partnering with other nations, both at home and abroad. III Corps headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, and XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., have Canadian general officers serving as deputy commanders, but USARPAC is the first Army Service Component Command to have a coalition partner general officer serve in this capacity.
Prior to arriving in Hawaii, McHugh visited with troops in Korea, as well as Soldiers participating in Khaan Quest 2012, an annual multinational exercise sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted by the Mongolia Armed Forces. While there, McHugh met with USARPAC Commanding General Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski and discussed the outstanding contributions the Army is making throughout the Pacific and Asia.
With seven of the 10 largest armies in the world in the Pacific, McHugh reiterated the value land forces bring under the U.S. Defense Strategic Guidance.
"You really can't approach a meaningful, successful strategy in the Pacific without Army forces," he said. "History shows the Army has long been a critical player here in the Pacific, and I think the future will show that every bit as well."