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Odierno: Army seeks increased partnerships in Asia

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Jan. 25, 2012) -- The Army is looking for increased opportunities to partner with allies in Asia, including both Korea and Japan.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno recently returned from a trip to the Pacific region, including Korea and Japan, as well as other parts of Pacific Command to include Hawaii and Alaska.

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Odierno spoke Jan. 25 at a breakfast hosted by the Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare in Arlington, Va.

In Japan, the general met with the Japanese minister of defense and the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force commander.

"Both expressed their optimism and were excited about increased opportunities to work together with the Army, which they see as critical to the future of the Asian region," Odierno said.

While in Korea, he met with the country's minister of defense and army chief of staff.

"Both leaders were extremely appreciative of our Army's continued commitment and dedication to security in Northeast Asia," Odierno said.

Odierno expects development of a trilateral relationship between South Korea, Japan and the United States for security cooperation, something he said "is an important step as we continue to expand our relationships in Northeast Asia."

The general said the trip to Asia was productive, adding that it's "clear that our partners and allies in Asia/Pacific desire increased engagement with our great Army -- especially as we continue to maneuver our way through these complex and uncertain times we have," Odierno explained.

The general said he has three "principal and interconnected" goals for the Army: prevent, shape and win.

He explained that the Army can prevent conflict by maintaining the Army's own credibility, adding that the service's capacity, readiness and modernization can "avert miscalculation by potential adversaries." He also said the Army must not lose the ability to conduct missions across any operational environment, including regular and irregular warfare, civilian operations, counter insurgency and humanitarian assistance.

The Army can also shape the international environment "with strong military relationships with allies and by building partner capacity," he added.

Such relationships, Odierno said, are already strong in Asia, and will continue to grow.

"We will strengthen our presence in the region," he said. "We have five of our seven mutual defense treaties in this region and we continue to conduct longstanding exercises with Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. The Army will actively seek new opportunities for expanding and existing training and engaging with new partners."

In Europe, Africa and South America, Odierno expects similar partnerships. Even with a reduced footprint in Europe, for instance, the Army maintains its commitment there to NATO allies, Odierno said, and will have increased training opportunities with its European partners.

The Army must also be "ready to win," dominantly and decisively. "The cost of indecision and cost of entering the fight without a dominant capability, enabled by superior technology and unmatched leadership, is the unnecessary loss of American lives," Odierno said. "We must and will retain an Army with the capacity and capability to win decisively on any battlefield, should the terms fail."

Odierno touched on the recently released National Defense Authorization Act, which he said reflects Army modernization priorities, and includes the Army network, an infantry fighting vehicle that can accommodate an entire infantry squad, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

With force reductions looming, Odierno said the Army will reduce "incrementally" over time, and he expects a "great deal" of force reductions can happen through natural attrition -- and that the Army "will reduce in a manner that preserves our readiness while avoiding any type of hollow force."

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