Special Ops command changes

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CAMP SMITH — For the first time, a Green Beret general has succeeded another as commander of U.S. special operations forces in the Pacific.

Brig. Gen. Salvatore F. Cambria, a 31-year Army veteran, assumed the helm of the Hawai'i-based Special Operations Command-Pacific (SOCPAC) in a change-of-command ceremony yesterday at Camp Smith.

He replaced Maj. Gen. David P. Fridovich, 55, who led SOCPAC for 2 1/2 years.

Cambria will oversee the hundreds of special operations troops, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, assigned to the Asia-Pacific region.

His most recent post was as director of operations at U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

"I'm deeply aware of SOCPAC's proud history and the main significant accomplishments under Gen. Fridovich's leadership," Cambria said during the ceremony. "I look forward to joining this very talented team of quiet professionals."

Members of SOCPAC have been serving in the Philippines since 2002. The bulk of its efforts has been training local soldiers and leading humanitarian projects.

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said his last visit to a remote region in the southern Philippines showed him that the troops were making progress.

"Think about the change in 18 to 24 months. Think about the turnaround, the lives that have been affected, the hope that has been restored," Keating said.

The troops have been involved in humanitarian projects in this area, providing medical, dental and even veterinarian care. They also help with improvements to water systems, roads and classrooms.

"That's what makes special operations so unique," said Cambria, who also speaks Spanish fluently. "We spend a lot of time learning the culture of these areas."

Most of Cambria's experience has been in Central and South America, which he finds similar to the Asia-Pacific region.

"A lot of things that the special operations forces are doing in Latin America, folks are doing here in this theater," he said. "They're very similar. Just different countries, different regions."

Fridovich, who was nominated for the rank of lieutenant general, is heading to Florida to serve as director of the Center for Special Operations at MacDill Air Force Base.

http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070704/NEWS08/707040397/1001/NEWS
 
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