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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Secretary of the Navy Gordon England says he does not see a reduction in the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

“This part of the world is very, very important to the United States,” he told about 700 people gathered at a base theater here Thursday. “This is a crucial part of the world.

“I believe we will end up increasing our presence in the Asia Pacific Region because it’s so important,” he said. “We’re here to maintain the stability and peace and security, and to work with our allies in the global war on terror.”

In the long term, the United States needs to ensure the region “remains a stable part of the world, so that it doesn’t flare up in the future and cause conflict with the United States,” England said.

England stopped on Okinawa during a swing through the Pacific. He arrived late Wednesday and visited Camps Hansen, Foster and Futenma Marine Corps Air Station on Thursday, and conducted a helicopter tour of the northern camps. He’s scheduled to visit Iwo Jima on Friday.

During the hour-long session at the Camp Foster Theater, England told Marines, sailors and civilians that he’s seen the United States defeat two “isms” during his lifetime — fascism and communism.

And he has no doubt the United States will be successful against a third — terrorism.

The session was billed as a “Town Hall” meeting, but turned into a pep talk for the troops.

“In my judgment, in many respects [terrorism] is a much greater threat to our nation and the world,” England said. “For the very first time, a few people with weapons — terrible weapons — can inflict untold damage on our citizens on our country and among our friends and allies around the world.

“This is a very, very serious threat to America,” he said. “It’s going to be a long fight.”

“To use a cliché, there’s no advantage to the home team,” England said. “This is an away game. And that’s why you’re here, because this is part of the away game.

Although he opened the meeting to questions, there were few and he spent the rest of his time shaking hands and posing for pictures with the Marines and sailors.


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