U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs
FORT SHAFTER — America’s Army in the Pacific welcomed a new commander and expanded its footprint in Asia and the Pacific region during 2011.
Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski assumed command of U.S. Army Pacific from Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon during a change of command ceremony, March 21, on historic Palm Circle, here.
Other senior leaders in USARPAC also changed in 2011: Maj. Gen. Robert Mathews became deputy commanding general, USARPAC, July 18; and Maj. Gen. William Beard, became deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Reserves, Aug. 29.
Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Leota accepted the ceremonial noncommissioned officers sword that signified his assumption of authority from outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Zettlemoyer, Feb. 25, during a ceremony on Palm Circle.
Army forces throughout Asia and the Pacific were realigned Oct. 1, resulting in a stronger Army voice from the Pacific to the U.S. Pacific Command and Headquarters, Department of the Army. With the integration, USARPAC became the largest Army service component command, or ASCC, with enhanced capabilities for response in Asia and the Pacific region. Realignment of two senior Army headquarters also made USARPAC the single ASCC responsible for all armed forces’ responsibilities in Asia and Pacific region.
USARPAC’s primary element, which is fully prepared to respond to crises across the region, is the Contingency Command Post that validated its operational capability in a certification exercise in the Philippines during exercise Balikitan 2011. The 96 personnel of the CCP provide forward command post capability to USARPAC, specifically focusing on small-scale contingencies, such as supporting humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peace operations.
Balikitan 2011, a bilateral exercise held annually in the Philippines between U.S. and Philippine forces, was one of the many exercises and military-to-military engagements from USARPAC Soldiers throughout the year. The 27th Balikatan exercise started April 5, and it served as an opportunity for bilateral training that is vital to maintaining readiness capabilities for both the U.S. and the Philippine armed forces.
Yama Sakura also is a key annual exercise for USARPAC involving Japanese forces. Yama Sakura 59 began Jan. 22, and it was a simulation-driven, joint-bilateral, command post exercise. This was the 29th iteration of the Japan-based exercise series.
A key event during 2011 was the Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference VII and Pacific Armies Management Seminar XXXV, July 27-Aug. 1, in Singapore. USARPAC organized PAMS, an annual multinational military seminar that provided a forum for senior-level officers from countries in the region to exchange views and ideas.
USARPAC Soldiers were essential to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2011. More than 11,000 Soldiers deployed to continue to support operations in Afghanistan. USARPAC Soldiers among the last to leave Iraq.
USARPAC Soldiers are among the best in the Army, as demonstrated by competitors for USARPAC’s 2011 Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year titles. Staff Sgt. Adam Connolly, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, was selected as NCO of the year, and Sgt. Christopher Side, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Japan, was USARPAC’s Soldier of the Year. The top Soldiers were recognized June 10, when USARPAC commemorated the Army’s birthday.
Civilian employees also were recognized for their contributions to USARPAC in 2011. USARPAC’s first Army Civilian Recognition awards program, March 9, recognized civilian service excellence. Civilian employees in nine categories, including Emerging Leader of the Year, Team Excellence and Unsung Heroes, were lauded a luncheon, here.