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Tue Dec 31, 2013, 08:04 AM

Army seeks greater Pacific role, creating a turf battle

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/12/army-seeks-greater-pacific-role-creating-turf-battle

Army seeks greater Pacific role, creating a turf battle
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
The Washington Post
December 31, 2013

ABOARD THE LAKE ERIE

Approaching from the Hawaii coast, the mosquito-shaped helicopter buzzed around this guided missile cruiser twice before swooping toward the landing pad. The Navy crew on the deck crouched, the helmeted faces betraying more than routine concern as the aircraft, flown by a pilot who had never before alighted upon a ship, hovered a foot off the tarmac and then set down with a thud.

The sailors' trepidation was prompted by three words painted in black block letters on the drab olive fuselage: United States Army.

The Army, which fights on terra firma, does not usually land its helicopters on ships the domain of the Navy and the Marine Corps but these are not usual times in the U.S. military. As the Obama administration winds down the Army-centric war in Afghanistan, Pentagon leaders are seeking to place the Air Force, Navy and Marines in dominant roles to counter threats in the Asia-Pacific region, which they have deemed to be the nation's next big national security challenge.

Fearful that the new strategy will cut its share of the defense budget, the Army is launching an ambitious campaign to transform itself and assert its relevance in the Pacific. And that, in turn, is drawing the Army into a fight.

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