WASHINGTON, DC – This month, I completed a two-week, six-stop tour of the Pacific, beginning with a visit to the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. It was a fitting way to start the trip, a reminder that the US Army is critical to forming the foundation for security in the Pacific.
The 25th Infantry Division, which in its early years earned the nickname “Tropic Lightning,” marks its 75th anniversary this autumn. The men and women stationed there – and, indeed, all US soldiers in the Asia-Pacific region – have been working to secure regional stability for much of the last century. Since US President Barack Obama’s strategic rebalance to Asia, they have been doing even more.
Today, the US Army has a lot on its plate outside the region. It is at the forefront of the US-led coalition’s campaign against the so-called Islamic State, as well as efforts to support the people of Afghanistan.
Yet we also continue to play a critical role in maintaining peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Though security in the Pacific is often associated with the efforts of the US Air Force and Navy, the Army is assuming an increasingly important role in strengthening regional partnerships. At a time when six of the world’s ten largest armies are located in the Pacific theater of operations, and 22 of the region’s 27 countries have army officers as their defense chiefs, the need to invest in the US Army’s mission in the region is clear.