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American Forces Press Service

Pace Returns From Australia, Indonesia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2007 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff returned to Washington today following a week-long trip designed to cement ties in the Pacific region and put a face to events halfway around the world.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace met with officials at U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii and then went on to meet military and national leaders in Australia and Indonesia.

“It’s been a great trip,” Pace said during an interview while homeward bound. “It started with just trying to reconfirm and strengthen what’s been a long-term and terrific relationship with our allies in Australia. With Indonesia, it was a chance to strengthen a budding strategic relationship between two very large democracies.”

During a refueling stop at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., en route to Hawaii on the first leg of his trip, Pace toured the base hospital and met a wounded Marine who was on his way back to Hawaii. The chairman offered 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Steven Eastburn a ride to the island. The young man had been wounded in the right arm in Iraq’s Anbar province Jan. 31. He was going to Trippler Hospital in Hawaii for further treatment.

Once in Hawaii, Pace held a town hall meeting with the staff of U.S. Pacific Command, and then met with military and civilian leaders to discuss operations in the region.

Then it was on to Sydney, Australia, where Pace received a tour of the Joint Operations Command headquarters and a full-up briefing on Australia’s special operations groups. The general said the American special operations forces regard the Australians as “world class.” He said he was pleased with the exchange of ideas.

On Feb. 12 in the Australian capital of Canberra, Pace met with military and civilian leaders of the defense ministry and then traveled to Parliament to meet with Prime Minister John Howard and Defense Minister Brendan Nelson.

The next day, Pace traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia, for a series of meetings. His meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was supposed to take about a half hour, but it stretched to just over an hour. The main topics of conversation were education and ways in which the U.S. and Indonesia can be better partners, the chairman said.

Pace met with his host, Air Chief Marshal Djoko Suyanto, the chief of the Indonesian military, as well as with Indonesia’s service chiefs.

“I came out to listen to two good partners and see if we could partner better in the future,” Pace said. “On their end of it, they want to know that the United States is paying attention to their home territory.”

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