Fresh from Poland, infantry commander takes charge of US Army Japan
Stars and Stripes June 20, 2023
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — An infantry commander who last worked in Poland, where he helped Ukrainian troops battling invading Russians, is the new leader of U.S. ground forces in Japan.
Maj. Gen. David Womack took command of U.S. Army Japan from Maj. Gen. Joel “JB” Vowell during a Tuesday ceremony presided over by Gen. Charles Flynn, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, at Camp Zama, 26 miles southwest of central Tokyo.
“Your recent position in Poland conducting operations to support U.S. and NATO operations against the Russians in Ukraine will be of great value,” Flynn told Womack, who recently left a job as V Corps’ deputy commanding general of maneuver stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, with duty in Poznan, Poland.
The Roanoke, Va., native took charge of about 3,000 U.S. soldiers at 17 posts in Japan involved in a wide range of missions, including military intelligence, missile defense, sea transport, aviation and cyber warfare.
“Japan is our most critical and important ally in this region,” Flynn told about 200 dignitaries gathered for the command change, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.
“Unfortunately, today there are shared dangers from those seeking to destabilize the region,” Flynn said. “Those acting irresponsibly by threatening others’ national sovereignty and by violating their territorial integrity.”
A 1992 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, Womack commanded 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and has served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Your leadership has ensured we are prepared to support our allies here and across the Indo-Pacific,” Womack told Vowell.
North Korea fired more than 90 missiles last year, a record, and Russia is flying nuclear-capable bombers around Japan. However, the long-term challenge is China, Vowell said.
“China is on another long march to first dominate the region and then supplant us around the globe,” he said.
The Army’s mission is to work with America’s allies to prevent war and, if need be, to fight and win, said Vowell, who goes next to lead Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, Iraq.