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TORII STATION, Okinawa — On his way to Japan’s frigid north, the Army’s top general in the Pacific took a side trip to Okinawa to thank the troops.

“It’s important,” Lt. Gen. James L. Campbell, commanding general U.S. Army Pacific, said here Wednesday. While the war on terror rages in other parts of the world, he said, he worries the young men and women in uniform in Japan wonder if anybody cares about the job they do.

They do — that’s his message.

“I would not be here, I would have gone straight to Yama Sakura, if it were not important for me to be here today and meet the soldiers and civilians; to shake their hands and say, ‘You do count, we depend upon you and we’re grateful for what you do,’” Campbell said.

He acknowledged that deployments to Iraq are putting a lot of stress on troops in the Pacific.

“The Army of the Pacific is heavily involved in the ongoing war in terms of the young men and women we send forward,” he said. “We’ll do all we can to support them while at the same time maintaining our responsibilities here in the Pacific with all of our allies.”

He said the soldiers on Okinawa and Japan are “certainly a deterrent to those in this part of the world that would think about doing something.”

While preparing to attend the Yama Sakura command post exercise at a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force headquarters near Tokyo, Campbell had high praise for “our Japanese allies.”

“We are very, very appreciative of the fact that the contingent from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is going forward to Iraq and we’re standing side by side with these great soldiers,” Campbell said.

While in Japan he also will attend a seminar for senior U.S. and Japanese military brass at Tokyo’s New Sanno Hotel next week.

Campbell said he envisions no immediate change in the Army’s presence on Okinawa, where about 900 soldiers are stationed.

“For the time being we are very comfortable with what we have on the ground to do the job,” he said.

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