Myers: Pacific region stable despite war needs
TOKYO — The war on terror is causing the United States to shift resources but is not sapping troop strengths in Asia, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday in Tokyo’s New Sanno Hotel.
Nor is it harming reenlistments or recruitment, or pressing servicemembers to apply for tours in Asia to avoid the Middle East.
“I’ve not heard of that and I don’t know if that phenomena exists,” Myers said.
Speaking of the Pentagon’s plan to shift 25 percent of Okinawa’s Unit Deployment Program Marines to a tour in Iraq, Myers said other measures will fill the security gap in the Marines’ absence.
“That they’re gone means that we’re going to have to make other arrangements to ensure stability in the region,” he said. “And it won’t be other ground forces. There’ll be other steps taken.”
He would not elaborate but said that as soon as possible, Marines will return to Okinawa to rebuild the force posture there.
Myers’ background in the Pacific — serving on Okinawa in the 1970s and commanding U.S. Forces Japan from 1993 to 1996 — provides him with experience with the region’s dynamics and the political-military relationships.
He came to Japan this week as part of a four-nation tour of Asia. He will travel to Mongolia and Australia to thank those nations for their support in the war on terror, and to China to bolster relations there.
In Japan, Myers thanked Japanese leaders for supporting U.S. policy in Iraq and discussed plans for reducing the U.S. military footprint in the country.
“I really think that every service is resourced appropriately for the mission they have out here,” he said. “Potentially there’s going to be some changes in the future, but it’s all meant to strengthen our position in the Asia-Pacific region.
“This is something that the joint staff looks at routinely and that is, what is our preparedness to fulfill our military strategy? We’re a very, very busy military. There are going to have to be some changes made probably. We’ll have to figure that out.”
Myers also spoke about the strong ties the United States has with Japan and South Korea.
“This is clearly an area where we have great national interest,” he said. “Our presence out here lends to the stability. It’s about the relationships that we have in Japan, the relationships we have in Korea.”
Myers visited South Korea in November.
As for the toll the war is taking on servicemembers, Myers said the Pentagon is dedicated to rebalancing the military to take the strain off the reserves. However he said, the war on terror is not thinning the ranks.
“Overall, in all the services, if you take a snapshot right now we’re meeting all our goals,” Myers said about recruitment levels. “This is our time for American men and women in uniform to either reenlist” or for those not in the military to sign up. “And we’re finding that that’s in fact the phenomena that’s happening.”