New 25th ID general returns to Hawaii, will oversee new Pacific strategy
By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 2, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — The 25th Infantry Division bid farewell Friday to the commanding general who has led its transition from predictable operations in Southwest Asia to rapid island deployments in the Pacific.
Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller passed command to Maj. Gen. Charles A. Flynn during a ceremony on Weyand Field that included a group of soldiers performing a traditional Hawaiian warrior dance. Fuller called Flynn his “old friend and Ranger buddy” and described him as “the right leader at the right time to keep this enterprise moving ahead.”
Flynn will oversee one of the primary components of the Army’s continuing shift toward the Pacific as part of the Obama administration’s rebalance to the region. U.S. Army Pacific has launched Pacific Pathways, which will change the way troops are deployed for exercises and missions.
This is a return to Hawaii for Flynn, who was once a brigade operations officer in the 25th. He is relocating from Fort Bragg, where he was assistant deputy chief of staff for readiness at the U.S. Army Forces Command. Fuller, who took command of the division in April 2012, is moving to an assignment in Washington, D.C.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, who as commander of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has oversight of the 25th, noted that Fuller and his team established the Lightning Academy, which is intended to increase international cooperation between smaller Army units, and reestablished the Jungle Operations Training Center.
Flynn vowed to keep the 25th prepared for any contingency. He evoked the lessons of the Korean War in 1950 when U.S. troops ended up in “full retreat” after China entered the war because “the world’s most formidable military force was completely unready for sustained ground combat,” he said.
Reminding the gathered soldiers that “these events unfolded in this Pacific theater,” Flynn said it was the division’s “responsibility to be ready” and “learn from history.”
The ceremony was unusual in that it did not include the full division formation on Weyand Field. That was because about a third of the division’s Stryker and aviation brigades were involved in mission training, and other units were in the Philippines and New Zealand for exercises, Fuller said. Another battalion was out training at Schofield’s Jungle Operations Course.
The Hawaiian warriors dance that opened the ceremony was “a way to show our admiration and respect for the Hawaiian and Pacific islands culture,” Fuller said. The 25th was activated in Hawaii just months before the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941.
The division’s deep roots here make it “forever part of Hawaii,” Fuller said.