The Army's top general in the Pacific is President Obama's choice to become the next commander of all U.S. military forces in Korea, where alarm is growing over increasingly provocative threats from the North.
Gen. Vincent Brooks has led U.S. Army Pacific since July 2013. If confirmed by the Senate, Brooks will succeed Gen. Curtis “Mike” Scaparrotti, who is nominated to become the commander of U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.
“Gen. Brooks has served our military with distinction and has been a pioneer and trailblazer from his first days as an officer,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement released Monday. “As an operational leader in multiple theaters, including the Korean Peninsula, the Balkans, and the Middle East, General Brooks has developed a keen appreciation for the responsibilities of command and the importance of partnerships as a force multiplier.”
Brooks has a “deep understanding” for the needs of troops on the ground and possesses skills as “a communicator and strategic planner, developed during demanding tours at U.S. Central Command and at the Pentagon,” Carter said.
As commander of U.S. Army Pacific, Brooks “has played a critical role in the U.S. rebalance to that critical region,” Carter said.
“These experiences will serve him well as he assumes command of U.S. Forces Korea and builds upon the partnerships and alliances which were strengthened under the excellent leadership of Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti,” Carter said.
Brooks will step into a role that oversees more than 20,000 U.S. troops, predominantly Army and Air Force personnel, in a region that has become more volatile as North Korea continues to make nuclear threats and conduct missile tests.
As the Army component command to U.S. Pacific Command, USARPAC has administrative control over all U.S. Army forces in the PACOM area of responsibility. The command provides forces and performs theater security programs with 36 countries from the Asia-Pacific regions of Alaska, Japan and South Korea, according to information from USARPAC.
Brooks was the command’s first four-star boss since 1974; the USARPAC commander position was elevated from a three-star general billet as the Defense Department rebalanced its focus to the Asia-Pacific region. The move signified the Army’s commitment to the rebalance and to its allies and partners in the region. It also put the Army on par with the Air Force and Navy; both services are led by four-star commanders in the Pacific.
Before USARPAC, Brooks was commanding general of Third Army/U.S. Army Central. A 1980 graduate of West Point, Brooks has served in Germany, South Korea, Kosovo and the Middle East. He commanded the 1st Infantry Division and has served in units such as the 82nd Airborne Division, the 3rd Infantry Division, the 1st Cavalry Division and the 2nd Infantry Division.