JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - The role of the Army in Hawaii and the Pacific could help the service branch avoid steep cuts in the islands, the Army's Chief of Staff said Thursday during his visit to the islands.
As Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno's primary focus is on to man, train and equip his soldiers keeping them ready for the fight. He's visiting with the troops here in Hawaii to take a message back to Washington to tell them how their sequestration efforts in Congress will impact their ability to fight.
At Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Gen. Odierno spoke with Army divers and toured an Army logistic support vessel.
"We've increased our manpower in the pacific by 40 percent since the rebalance, and we've increased our investment in operational missions by about 20 percent," he said.
Odierno says maintaining that capability in Hawaii is key to the strategic rebalancing of the Pacific mission and therefore will be taken into account as the Army evaluates a proposed cut of 20,000 troops in Hawaii, part of the Congressional sequestration efforts to shrink the Army to 420,000 troops in five years.
"It's inevitable we may lose some number but it may be very small," Odierno said. "What I've got to make sure we do is we don't let other problems around the world pull capability from here for short periods of time."
Overall, the former Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq believes our current military efforts against ISIS are on track.
"I think the strategy we are putting forward is the right strategy," he said. "Utlimately, we need people over there to solve the problem. We need to enable them to solve that problem."
Gen. Odierno will head back to Washington where he plans to testify before Congress in the next few weeks.