Despite the heightened saber rattling by North Korea in the region, the top U.S. military leader in Western Pacific assured residents that they have nothing to be concerned about.
Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, who assumed command of Joint Region Marianas in January this year, said: “I know that it is everybody’s concern. When world leaders start to make threats, particularly North Korea has, I know people all over the world begin to notice and get concerned.
“It is very important for the United States military to make sure we have our presence and we pursue our freedom of navigation throughout the world’s oceans so that we can uphold international law and maintain freedom and peace,” she said.
Just yesterday, North Korea claimed it successfully test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a potential game-changing development.
Chatfield, who is also commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Marianas and the U.S. Pacific Command and senior military official in Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, attended yesterday’s Liberation Day parade on Beach Road in Garapan, joining Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and administration officials and dignitaries on the main stage.
“I have been to Saipan quite a few times but this is my first time to witness the celebration of the CNMI Liberation Day and I am honored to be a part of it.” Chatfield said.
She was accompanied on this trip by her husband, David. She said they have been able to enjoy the many things that Saipan has to offer, “including playing tennis last night at the community tennis center at [American] Memorial Park and also we went snorkeling this morning.”
Before coming to the Marianas region, Chatfield worked for the Supreme Headquarters for the Allied Power Europe, or SHAPE. “That’s why I lived in Belgium for three years.” SHAPE is the headquarters of the Allied Command Operations that control NATO operations worldwide.
“I was an assistant to a general in-charge and when I moved up to the Brussels headquarters, I was on the U.S. delegation to the military committee,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield is not a newcomer to the region, having been with the Helicopter Sea Combat 25 in Guam from 2002 to 2006. “I was the commanding officer of that squad. I served as wing commander of HSC wing, U.S. Pacific fleet from 2011 to 2013 before Belgium.
“So when this job opened up, I asked if I can come out and I was really fortunate to be able to come back to the Marianas,” she added.
Chatfield is an inspiration and a figure of leadership to the men and women in the military. She extends the same aspirations to the younger generation of the Marianas
“For any young person who has a dream or a goal, I just hope that you have the courage to share that with somebody who can help you attain it. When the goals stays internal, sometimes it just stays a dream.
“But when it is shared, people remind you about that when times are hard, when you’re tired. So the more people you share that with, the more people rally around you when it looks like you need help. Sharing the goal and working through the difficult times with the people you love and who loves you and support you, that can really help you reach your goal.”
Chatfield, looking at two years on the post, said, “Normally, the post’s tour of duty is two years but I hope it would be more.”