Hagel, in Hawaii, Praises ‘Value Added’ Force Integration
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
HONOLULU, May. 30, 2013 The tight integration in Hawaii between active duty service members, civilian defense employees and National Guardsmen points to the future of the overall force, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told troops at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam here today.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel answers questions from U.S. Pacific Command service members May 30, 2013, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Hagel met with Pacific Command leaders before continuing to Singapore to speak at the Shangri-La Dialogue. DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“That’s as much value added as I think we can get in our system,” Hagel said. An Air Force F-22 Raptor served as the secretary’s backdrop as he spoke to about 200 personnel representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard.
Defense officials have previously identified fifth-generation fighter aircraft such as the Raptor as essential elements in the new defense strategy, which includes a pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region.
“Thank you, on behalf of our president and our country,” the secretary said. “I know sometimes you feel, stuck out here in the Pacific, that no one knows who you are or what you’re doing; let me assure you, we do, and we’re grateful.” Hagel asked the group -- mostly made up of junior enlisted service members -- to also thank their families for the support they give the military.
“I think the families are often just taken for granted, and it’s probably as difficult -- maybe more difficult -- for them as it is for you,” he noted. “I … extend my thanks and best wishes.”
U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region are a “central part of the larger plan” America is pursuing in the Pacific, Hagel said. Hagel’s stop in Hawaii is the first leg of a trip that will also take him to Singapore and Brussels.
In Singapore, Hagel will attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual gathering of defense and security experts from across the Pacific region. Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and other senior military leaders from the region will also attend, he noted.
The secretary told troops that one of the points he will make at the conference is that the U.S. rebalance to this region is not only right for the nation, but for its Asian partners and allies.
“For the rest of the world, that doesn’t mean we are abandoning our resources anywhere else, or we’re retreating from any other part of the world. We’re not,” Hagel said.
When he leaves Singapore, the secretary will fly to Brussels to meet with NATO and International Security Assistance Force partners for talks on the Afghanistan campaign.
“Our interests are global,” he added. “But … I think the opportunities that abound in the world are probably centered as much in the Asia-Pacific as in any [other] one area.”
Hagel said the unique opportunities present in the Asia-Pacific region hold “as much potential as maybe ever in the history of man.”
He said to realize that potential, leaders in the region must govern wisely, respond to each other wisely, and form coalitions of common interests wisely.
“We all have common interests, [though] our governments are different,” he said. “Our cultures are different; some of us look different; our languages are different. But still, the basic common interests of the human being don’t change.”
People everywhere need food and security, and they value their families, he said.
“I’ve never found a country yet, or religion, or culture, or tribe, that doesn’t have the same feelings about their families,” he said. “ … We start there. We all need the basics in life to survive. We start there.”
Hagel said given that, a simple question follows: “Why can’t we all get along?”
The secretary said he likes to ask simple questions, because “we tend to kind of glide over simple things, and … occasionally make things more complicated than they need to be.”
Hagel said “right now” is a defining time for the world, and Pacific nations will have a lot to say “about how this next world order is built out.”
The decade after World War II was probably the last time the planet faced such profound social, political and international change, he added.
“The difference is, the United States held most of the cards after World War II,” he said. “We don’t hold all the cards this time; and by the way, that’s good. [It] allows other countries to share responsibilities … [and] prosper.”