CAMP ZAMA, Japan — As transformation takes shape for the Army in mainland Japan and Okinawa, there won’t be any staging of large combat forces here in the future, its new leader said.
Brig. Gen. Frank Wiercinski, who became commander of U.S. Army Japan and 1st Corps (Forward) two months ago, also said Thursday that preparing soldiers for all contingencies in an "increasingly important region of the world" will be a mission cornerstone.
"You continuously prepare for something you hope never happens. It’s a huge reason we’re here," he added. "[The U.S.-Japan security alliance] is built over time. It’s not built in days and not built in weeks."
Arrival of the I Corps (Forward) headquarters has resulted in some additional soldiers, vehicles and equipment at USARJ installations, but the change has been negligible, he said.
A critical piece will be future construction of a battle simulation center at nearby Sagami Depot. The facility allows computer war games to be played out.
"It’s fighting digitally without having huge forces," Wiercinski said. "This will reduce our footprint, not increase it. It allows you to exercise with great accuracy and precision."
Asked whether USARJ soldiers and units might be tapped more often to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, the general said he’s unaware of such plans. The command has provided individual augmentees in the war on terror for years.
"It’s our job to make sure they are ready if called upon," he added.
With the global fight against terrorists still under way, Wiercinski said he understands military funding priorities lie outside mainland Japan and Okinawa. That requires "judicious" management of resources and spending, he added.
"It’s a tough balancing act. We must make sure we have a plan and we’re not a stumbling block to that plan," he said. "It’s a challenge, not an obstacle."
Since assuming his leadership posts June 30, Wiercinski already has made four trips to Okinawa. He’s also met frequently with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force counterparts.
Solidifying relations with the JGSDF is another priority, he said, adding that U.S. soldiers must always be "gracious, respectful neighbors (and) ambassadors to the U.S., from privates all the way up to generals."
Taking care of soldiers and families is a constant concern for Wiercinski. He praised the quality of housing, barracks, schools, MWR activities, spouse deployment programs and other facilities and said they should be utilized.
"You won’t get this anywhere else in the world. …I feel very comfortable with our (quality of life)," he said. "It’s first class in everything we do. My job is to make sure we sustain that, not to fix what isn’t broken."