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Fargo Outlines Pacific's Security Challenges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

HONOLULU, Hawaii, Sept. 13, 2004 – Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told a group of U.S. civilian leaders Sept. 11 that "the center of gravity of our security interests is moving."

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Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, describes challenges facing the U.S. military in the region to participants in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference on Sept. 11. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Moreen Ishikawa, USAF
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Fargo met with about 50 business, civic and academic leaders participating in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference to outline the challenges facing U.S. Pacific Command, which covers 52 percent of the world's surface and includes 43 countries and 20 territories.

Among those challenges, he said, is the continued standoff in Korea, as well as concerns over the possible presence of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, tension between China and Taiwan and the modernization of China's military.

Addressing the group on the third anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Fargo said another critical concern is the rise of terrorism in Southeast Asia which he said the United States and its coalition partners are committed to squelching.

During the past six months alone, he said the United States and Singapore have worked together to arrest more than 200 suspected Jamal Islamaya terrorism.

But despite progress, Fargo acknowledged that terrorists are breeding more followers faster than the coalition can apprehend them and that the United States can't relent in its effort to obliterate them. "If the terrorists come out on top of this, it will change the world for the foreseeable future," he said. "We can't let that happen."

As the civilian leaders prepared to leave for Korea during the first stop of an itinerary Fargo called "as jam-packed as any we've ever produced," he encouraged them to learn all they can about "the finest military I've seen in my 34 years of service."

Fargo called the U.S. military's technology "the finest in the world, unmatched by any adversary."

But even more impressive, he said, are the men and women in uniform who put that technology to use in defense of the United States and its interests in the Pacific and around the world. "This is an amazing generation of young men and women," he said. "They're fearless and unafraid of hard work."

Fargo said members of the U.S. military "perform well because they're convinced that they have the absolute support of the American people" and thanked the civilian leaders for their continued support.

Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public liaison, told group members she hopes the trip will provide a snapshot of the military that demonstrates its capabilities.

But, like Fargo, Barber said she's particularly excited about the opportunity to introduce them to individual members of the armed forces. "Our technology is impressive," she told them. "But the men and women in the military are inspiring."

The conference has been introducing civilian "movers and shakers" with little or no military exposure to the workings of the armed forces since the first U.S. defense secretary, James V. Forrestal, created the program in 1948.

Nearly six decades later, it remains DoD's premier civic leader program. Participants are selected from hundreds of candidates nominated by military commands worldwide and pay their own expenses throughout the conference. This is just the third conference to include visits to U.S. installations overseas and the first to the Pacific.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAllison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public liaison, tells civilian leaders Sept. 11 participating in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, "our technology is impressive, but the men and women in the military are inspiring." Photo by Tech. Sgt. Moreen Ishikawa, USAF  
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