Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams told Rotary Club members the U.S. military has no “near-peer” competitor in the world when discussing possible threats at the club’s monthly luncheon Tuesday in the La Quinta Inn in Flemington.
“There is a lot of talk about a swing to the Pacific Theater,” said Abrams, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield. “There is no near-peer competitor to the U.S. military. It’s true that China is expanding their resources, but I want to tell you folks, there are already a lot of Chinese in Africa. There are already a lot of Chinese in South America.”
Abrams explained he wasn’t saying the Chinese were America’s next military threat but that China is expanding its economic resources to sustain its huge population.
Abrams said a Chinese equivalent of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff visited Fort Stewart last year and observed 3rd ID soldiers in action. Chinese military officials departed with an understanding “how good” we are, he said.
“They left here worried,” Abrams said.
He also acknowledged that reports about al-Qaeda being decimated are true.
“We’ve gotten so good at what we do, al-Qaeda is lacking for leadership,” he said. “But there are other areas of unrest. Syria, for example — should we get involved? Let me say I think we’d better be very measured in what we do.”
Abrams invited Rotary members to take part in the Army’s 137th birthday celebration at 9 a.m. Thursday on Cottrell Field.
He listed what 3rd ID soldiers are doing to “keep busy:”
• 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team has two battalions conducting training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., for a probable deployment to Afghanistan this fall.
• 2nd HBCT has two battalions already deployed to Afghanistan. The battalion headquarters for the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment is serving as head of a Special Operations task force, while its 27 squads have been broken down and assigned to work with Special Forces Operational Detachments Alphas. The 1st Battalion, 64th Armor is currently attached in support of a Stryker Brigade. The rest of the brigade is at Fort Polk training with the 1st HBCT, as an additional infantry battalion may be called to deploy with the 1st HBCT.
• 3rd HBCT at Fort Benning is currently deploying to Kuwait to be a reserve deterrent force for the region.
• 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is in the field conducting live-fire exercises. That includes the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery. Much of what sounded like thunder Monday night was actually Howitzers sending hot steel down range.
• 3rd Sustainment Brigade and 3rd Aviation Brigade are deploying to Afghanistan this winter.
• Division Headquarters Battalion is deploying to Afghanistan in August. There will be a casing-of-the-colors ceremony Aug. 8.
Abrams concluded his remarks by telling Rotary Club members that when he talks to other military and political leaders why Stewart-Hunter is such a great place to serve, he tells them it’s because of the unconditional support of the community.