News: USARPAC commander visits Okinawa, Japan
By Maj. Sonie L. Munson
10th Regional Support Group, Public Affairs Office
TORII STATION, Okinawa, Japan – “I want you to know that you are part of 'one team,' or 'Ichi Dan' as you say in Japan,” was the message Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific resonated during his visit to United States Army Japan on Okinawa, Dec. 15-16.
Brooks’ commands all U.S. Army forces in the Pacific command area of responsibility and his command is prepared to provide trained and ready, combat enabling forces to perform theater security programs with 36 countries from the Asia-Pacific region.
As the commanding general of USARPAC, Brooks finds great value in talking to and getting insight from “where the rubber meets the road,” an idiom that literally means at the point in a process where there are challenges, issues, or problems.
This level for Brooks is at the company level as was demonstrated during a breakfast he had with 22 company grade officers assigned to USARJ on Okinawa to get their insights on how USARPAC can improve from their eyes and thanked them for their service.
“I want you to share your thoughts and insights because I only benefit when I hear from you as honestly and clearly as we can and that is why I want to talk to you directly,” said Brooks. “Being able to get a different perspective from the people who are living it can always be very helpful.”
Their insights were not taken lightly by Brooks, who candidly thanked them for giving him and his staff some homework and for their service.
“I want you to know that we at the senior leadership level are fully aware that you [company grade officers] have been committed to active operations your entire career and there have been costs,” said Brooks. “You have served honorably and you have served well, you have firsthand experience with very complex problems which are things that we are going to need well into the future.”
Brooks finished his remarks to the company grade officers by addressing the upcoming officer separation boards in the spring and wanted to thank them personally for their service and that their service has not gone unnoticed.
Not only does Brooks consider those assigned to USARJ on Okinawa part of the team he also acknowledged that our bilateral partners are a vital member to providing a secure and prospering Pacific region.
During his visit, Brooks met with Maj. Gen. Shigeru Kobayashi, commander of the 15th Brigade, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, taking time to strike up a friendship and learn about the history of Okinawa.
While Brooks’ visit to Okinawa was brief he reconfirmed that USARJ on Okinawa and our bilateral partners are all part of one team even though we are far away from his headquarters in Hawaii.