Panetta in the Pacific: Dropping by PACOM


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks to troops at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii. (Marcus Weisgerber/Staff)

CAMP SMITH, Hawaii — Our stop in Hawaii was short-lived, just about 19 hours total.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had dinner with Adm. Samuel Locklear, the head of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), on Wednesday night.

The SecDef met with Locklear again on Thursday morning to discuss implementing the Pentagon’s Pacific-heavy military strategy.

Afterward, Panetta met with about 300 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at PACOM headquarters. He gave out a few awards to members of the PACOM staff then talked about the critical role those based there will play as the focus on the Pacific region intensifies in the coming years.

Afterward, he handed out coins and we headed to Hickam Field for our flight to Singapore.

The Sea-Based X-Band Radar at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Marcus Weisgerber/Staff)

On the drive to the airfield, I spotted the Missile Defense Agency’s Sea-Based X-Band Radar, which appeared to be docked at Pearl Harbor. The giant radar dome is mounted atop an oil-rig-like platform and is used to track ballistic missile launches.

As we boarded the E-4B, an Air Force F-22A fighter touched down on a nearby runway, signaling the continuance of Raptor flights despite nagging oxygen system problems.

Stay tuned for more from Singapore on Saturday.  Panetta is scheduled to give the keynote at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Marcus Weisgerber
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Marcus Weisgerber

Senior Pentagon Correspondent at Defense News
I write about broad-ranging policy, acquisition and budget issues affecting the US military.
Marcus Weisgerber
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