Army Secretary gets close-up look at Korean front line
RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE RANGE, South Korea — The Army’s new civilian leader has taken a real hands-on approach during his first tour of the Pacific, even firing a rocket from a Kiowa helicopter during a demonstration flight near the border with North Korea.
But it’s the real military drills held regularly by the U.S. and its allies that impressed him the most.
Army Secretary Eric Fanning kicked off his visit to the region in Hawaii where multinational naval exercises were being held and wrapped it up in South Korea where the U.S. and its ally are preparing for annual war games later this month.
“Those integrated exercises are one of the ways we’re enhancing our capabilities as we draw down the Army,” Fanning told Stars and Stripes in an interview Wednesday.
Fanning said his trip, which also included stops in Guam, Malaysia, Japan and Alaska, highlighted the challenges facing the Army as it deals with budget constraints, aging equipment and a massive troop drawdown.
“We’re asking a lot of our soldiers, and the requirements are going up, and you see more of that here certainly on this peninsula,” he said after meeting with soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division that mans the front lines near the heavily militarized border with North Korea.
“Part of that is the rotational concept that we’re using, which allows us to have a bigger footprint even as we draw down the Army,” he said.
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