CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lt. Gen. James Campbell, who took over earlier this month as Army commander in the Pacific, views support for the U.S. war on global terrorism and continued vigilance in keeping troops ready to fight among his greatest challenges.
Keeping soldiersLt. Gen. James Campbell, who earlier this month became commander of the Army's 36,000 soldiers and civilians in the Pacific, is no stranger to the islands.
fit and focused
The new commander of
U.S. Army Pacific views training
and diligence as top goals
By Gregg K. Kakesako
His first Hawaii assignment came in June 1984 when he was named as the executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry at Schofield Barracks. A year later, he became assistant chief of staff for the 25th Infantry Division and in July 1987 was promoted to command the division's 4th Battalion, 27th Infantry.
Campbell left in June 1989 to attend the Naval War College. After command positions in Somalia in April 1993 and Haiti in September 1994, Campbell returned to Hawaii in July 1996 to head Joint Task Force-Full Accounting at Camp Smith. In September 1997, Campbell was assigned as assistant division commander for the 25th until he was promoted to command the 10th Division in March 1999.
Following his change of command ceremony on Nov. 4, when he took over for Lt. Gen. E.P. Smith, Campbell talked to the Star-Bulletin about his new job. What follows is an edited version of that interview.
Question: What are the challenges facing you as the Army commander in the Pacific?
Answer: In terms of the challenges, I like to couch it this way -- it's the things that keep me awake at night. It's not hard to put my hands on those because they are the things that concern me that much.
First and foremost is ... to support our nation's war on global terrorism.
Secondly, is the continued vigilance in training our soldiers to be able to contribute to (Pacific forces commander) Adm. Thomas Fargo's war-fighting readiness. It just doesn't work for the admiral to say I need the Army to go and for me to say we are not quite ready yet. I can't do that. I can't let him down or the country down.
I have this belief that you don't take care of soldiers by giving them extra four-day weekends or not making them do tough PT (physical training). You take care of soldiers by making them do their jobs ... So the best way to take care of that soldier and his family is to make sure he or she can do their job and that's our focus.
There's transformation in the joint (armed forces) community. We have to be players in that, to contribute and to be team members of Admiral Fargo and his team -- the Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force -- and we're committed to doing that. There are going to be six Stryker brigades (in the Army). At the end of all that, three of those six Stryker brigades -- one at Fort Lewis (Washington), one in Hawaii and one in Alaska -- will be the focus of the Pacific. We got to get it right. The Army is making a great investment in this and we got to do it right.
The final thing I consider a challenge is the development of our leaders. (Army Chief of Staff) Gen. (Eric) Shinseki said (something) at a conference that sticks with me. He said that a major today will be a division commander in the objective force in the year 2015. The sergeant major of the Army in 2025 joined the Army this year.
How can we not invest in these young men and women? I am a believer that I will do a lot of important things as the commander in the Pacific, but the most important thing will be developing the future leaders.
Leadership is also the civilian leadership. We have some of the most remarkable civilians ... and they all thirst for challenge. They want to be better. They want to do more things. I am going to work hard to give them that opportunity.
Q: You talk about balancing demands of fighting the global war on terrorism at the same time maintaining a security presence in the islands. How difficult is that?
A: We in the Army in the Pacific had this mission (of homeland defense) long before Sept. 11. On the 13th of September we activated the JRAC (Joint Rear Area Coordinator). We quickly determined the two areas we had to focus on were the infusion of intelligence -- of these different sources of intelligence which could help us -- and then training to exercise this. I can tell you that in both cases we made great leaps forward. It's a joint interagency effort, all of the local, state, federal and the FBI. We have got all of these people working together. There have been 43 exercises to date and those continue. Is it a large chunk of personnel? The answer is no, but it would be if we had to put a plan into action.
Q: What about our commitments to Asia and to provide a force if necessary?
A: As I speak we have the soldiers from the Army in Japan who are in the Philippines providing crucial support. We have soldiers in Okinawa ... So we are equipped to do that. We can handle both missions.
Q: At what point did you decide on the Army (as a career)?
A: I wanted to teach high school and coach baseball. I have a passion for baseball. I loved the Atlanta Braves ... I received a four-year ROTC scholarship which required me to commit four years of active service. My first assignments were with the 82nd Airborne and in Korea. At the end of the four years I decided I liked the challenge. I like the challenge of leading young men. I thought it to be a very exacting profession. It's a very dangerous profession, but I found that it to be very rewarding and challenging. I wanted some way to serve my country and I figured the best way was to do it is in uniform ... all of a sudden it's 31 years later.
Q: What do you do for enjoyment?
A: My biggest hobby is baseball memorabilia. I have boxes and boxes. I have bats and balls.
Q: What is your most cherished memorabilia?
A: Probably a picture Stan Musial signed for me when I was a kid, and a baseball that Ted Williams signed. ... Just this past week I found an Eddie Matthews', who used to play third base for the Milwaukee Braves, bat.
Q: What are you reading now?
A: Most recently, some Stephen Ambrose. I like his stories since they are told from a soldier's prospective. It's not told from standing back. It's told from the men and women on the ground. I guess it's easy to relate to that. I also just read a fascinating book on the relation between President Clinton and President Bush, the elder, and the generals. It was fascinating because it shared a dynamic to me that we have to be mindful of. It's very intricate.
Q: As you traveled the Pacific what have the soldiers told you? What are they looking for from the Army and you as their commander?
A: This should not surprise us. But almost to a man or to a woman, they are extremely proud to be able to serve their country and do these missions we call upon them to do. I often say we don't see men and women who come into the Army and content to stay in the barracks for three years. They want to be able write home that "I was in Thailand. I was learning how to track through the jungle with the Thai army." ... They get enormous pride of putting that American flag on their right soldier. I had a chance to go to Bosnia and talk to the men and women from the 25th Division. To a person they said, "Sir, this is the reason why we came into the Army. People back home are proud of us."
Q: At the end of your tenure what do you want your legacy to be?
A: It's clear that we trained our soldiers to do their jobs and we grew leaders to lead this great Army forward. That would be the legacy I would want to leave.
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