YOKOTO AIR BASE, Japan - U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with U.S. service members April 25 at Yokota Air Base, Japan, during a town hall meeting.
Dempsey stopped by Yokota Air Base as part of his tour of the Pacific to speak with Marines from Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Japan and hundreds of other service members from all branches of the armed forces about the rebalancing of regional security in the Asia-Pacific area of operations. Among other topics, Dempsey spoke about the Department of Defense budget, importance of building and maintaining good international relationships, and expressed his gratitude to service members.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to thank service members for what they are doing for the U.S. and for our alliance with Japan,” said Dempsey.
Particularly, Dempsey acknowledged service members for their role as part of the U.S. effort to rebalance its forces in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The rebalancing is about recognizing where the future trends are moving. They are moving demographically, economically and in terms of security to the Pacific,” said Dempsey.
Dempsey quoted Hall of Fame hockey player Wayne Gretzky as an analogy for the U.S. military’s strategy in the Pacific.
“We’re skating to where the puck is going,” said Dempsey. “We’re trying to position ourselves for a world where the priority of those demographic, economic and security issues will be the Asia-Pacific region.”
Although the rebalancing effort will take time due to other important requirements and responsibilities, a focus for the U.S. military will be the Pacific, according to Dempsey.
“It is not just the military. This is an entire government effort,” said Dempsey. “Think of it as an intellectual bandwidth. We’re starting to pay more attention, we’re starting to do more engagements at every level, and we’re trying to send some of our best quality, not only human capitol, but also our newest and best equipment. We’re just starting that journey, but it is going to take years.”
It was interesting and important to hear what Dempsey had to say about the shift in focus toward the Pacific region, according to Lance Cpl. Victor Corral, an administrative specialist with Headquarters Company, Camp Fuji.
“I knew that a lot of attention was being focused toward what we are doing here in Japan, but hearing Gen. Dempsey talk about it in-depth really helped put it into perspective for me,” said Corral.
Dempsey addressed current budget issues by stating figures to clarify repercussions, but also reinforced that efforts are being made to soften the impact on global security.
“This year in particular is difficult because we are trying to absorb all of these changes of the last six months in the fiscal year,” said Dempsey.
The military will work through this by prioritizing its readiness efforts and maintaining the high level of financial scrutiny that the military has always operated under, said Dempsey.
“When the general was talking about our readiness, I thought about how Marines always adapt and overcome,” said Cpl. Daniel J. Dugger, an automotive maintenance technician with Headquarters Co., Camp Fuji. “I have total faith in my government and especially my leaders, so I think the best thing we can do is to continue doing our jobs the best we can and adapt to the situation.”
Dempsey concluded the discussion by saying that it is not the first time the military has experienced budget reductions, and that readiness and resolve will remain steadfast.