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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Pacific command too vital to eliminate

Existing plans to reorganize the U.S. military took on added urgency in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

As reported this week by Advertiser Military Writer William Cole, there is high-level discussion of revising the military's existing system of geographic commands.

The idea would be to eliminate divisions that exist between various geographic commands and organize instead along functional lines.

There may be some virtue to such reorganization, but it would come at a terrific price. As anyone who watches the Pacific Command knows, the orientation of this operation — currently led by Adm. Dennis Blair — goes far beyond geography. The command specializes in the cultures, politics, people and unique concerns of the region. In short, it is far more than simply a war-fighting system assigned to this part of the world.

Rather, it is a quasi-diplomatic, quasi-academic force that maintains good relations with allies and acts as an early warning system for trouble in Asia-Pacific. Much of this could be lost if we give up the regional focus.

It seems inevitable that some restructuring will come. But Hawai'i's congressional delegation, along with local political and academic figures, should make sure that their voices and this argument is heard clearly in Washington as the effort goes forward.