Story by Greg Mitchell, FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, conducted an all-hands call in the Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka Fleet Theater, Feb. 4.
Locklear’s purpose for the visit was to connect with Sailors serving in the Pacific area of responsibility while fielding their questions and concerns.
“Each one of you, whether you think about it on any given day or not, are a central component of PACOM (Pacific Command), and what PACOM does,” said Locklear. “When I come out here I like to just take a few minutes to stop in and kind of see what’s on your mind but more than that to give you a context of why you’re here and what it is you do and what you’re doing for the United States of America as well as what you’re doing for security in this part of the world.”
Locklear proceeded to speak about the United States long history in the Asian Pacific, particularly since the end of World War II and the ability of the nation to build a strong alliance with the host nation of Japan.
“Since that time, the presence of the U.S. here and building a strong alliance with our Japanese partners has provided and underpins the security of this entire region,” said Locklear.
The Admiral emphasized that a large reason for the rise in democracies and improvement of quality of life, respect for human rights and dignity, a tremendous rise in economic capabilities, as well as the overall stability of the region, was due to the presence of the U.S. forward-deployed forces.
“What’s under-written all that to be honest with you is your presence here,” said Locklear. “It’s the presence of Naval Forces Japan, the 7th Fleet and the hard work that you do every day in and out,” said Locklear. “The same hard work that my wife’s father was doing here in the late ‘50s and ‘60s; you’re doing it today.”
Amongst the topics of discussion were U.S. interests in the Asian Pacific, overall reduction in forces due to budget cuts, the rise of other countries’ military capabilities, and various territorial disputes, things which affect the area of responsibilities’ atmosphere.
“The world we are in has become much more complicated; it’s getting harder everyday,” said Locklear. “It’s not just today about maritime and sea superiority or, ground force superiority. Now we add in cyber; we add in space and all these things that will influence the security department. With the [budget] drawbacks, we have asked each of you to pick up the slack, particularly over here, and you all have done that quite well and we are all very proud of you.”
For those in attendance, having an opportunity to listen to a message from the Pacific Commander was a memorable experience.
“It was very informational,” said Fireman Drew Benson of USS Stethem (DDG 63). “He taught me quite a bit of stuff. I learned about different things; what we are a part of and how big our actual fleet is and how much area we cover that we actually defend. I think that the fact that he took time out to come here to talk to us directly helps us feel that we are still important and that we actually do matter, no matter what our rate or rank is. We all have a job and a part in the success of the Navy as a whole.”
Locklear, who succeeded Adm. Gary Roughead, assumed his current assignment on March 9, 2012.