By Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Commanding General, United States Army PacificSeptember 30, 2014
The US Army has maintained a continuous presence in the Pacific, beyond the American shores, since1898, when the first American Soldiers arrived in the Philippines as a result of the Spanish-American War. Since that time, this region has remained a key to US national interests.
The Indo-Asia-Pacific region1 encompasses about half the earth's surface, is home to the world's largest democracy, largest trading region, three of the largest economies, and six of the most populous nations. The Indo-Asia-Pacific is also the world's most disaster-prone region, registering the largest number of people affected as well as the largest number of people killed, by disasters in the last decade. Given these factors and the Indo-Asia-Pacific's dynamic security environment our President refocused national assets to this very important strategic yet challenging region.
Throughout the years amid changing missions and evolving adjustments to force structure US Army Pacific's enduring constant has been our regional partnerships and relationships that are enhanced through the employment of joint and expeditionary capabilities. US Army Pacific has implemented new initiatives to set the theater, streamline and operationalize command relationships within the Pacific Army, and build ties with regional armies and land domain stakeholders.
The Indo-Asia-Pacific region's dynamic environment encompasses a vast seascape, landscape, and cyberscape which present both opportunities and challenges and make the aforementioned initiatives vital to stability and security. To successfully carry out enhanced missions in this region an appropriate reposturing of land domain capabilities is needed to "Set the Theater" for security and stability. A set theater encompasses having the necessary forces, footprints and agreements in place to support regional operations and missions, which could include response to natural disasters, man-induced situations, or theater security cooperation engagements. A set theater places a premium on building ties with regional armies and stakeholders within the joint community and ultimately serves as the foundation to enduring stability and security across the Indo-Asia-Pacific. Finally, a set theater is essential to the successful realization of US Army Pacific's Theater Strategy. The dynamic nature of the strategic operating environment poses a significant challenge to defining, achieving, and maintaining a set theater. As such, it is imperative that the pursuit of a set theater remain firmly grounded in a US Army Pacific Strategy that supports the US Government, Department of Defense, US Pacific Command, and Department of the Army strategic guidance. This guidance is set forth in documents that include the Guidance for Employment of the Force, the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, the US Pacific Command Strategy, and the Army Campaign Plan.
Within the context of setting the theater, the Department of the Army Campaign Support Plan and US Pacific Command Theater Campaign Plan are the key strategic documents of interest to US Army Pacific. The Army Campaign Support Plan integrates all Army Service Component Command security assistance programs and Army Service Component Command specific security cooperation activities and investments in support of all Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan tasked theater and global campaign plans and GEF endstates. The USARPAC Theater Campaign Support Plan operationalizes the Theater Army Strategy for the Asia Pacific and drives day-to-day activities. The Theater Campaign Support Plan also provides a logical five-year roadmap of Plans of Action and Milestones along four distinct Lines of Effort: Shape, Posture, Ready, and Communicate. These four Lines of Effort drive plans and operations and ensure all actions are aligned to meet our desired endstates of developing resilient partnerships that enhance regional capabilities, and developing a flexible and agile force positioned to deter aggression and rapidly respond to threats or provide humanitarian assistance where and when required.
The 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command provides a perfect example of force positioning as part of a set theater. They are positioned, capable and ready to respond to ballistic missile threats, with our regional treaty partners, to protect vast areas from attack. The recent expansion of Air and Missile Defense capabilities, to include the deployment and continued rotational presence3 of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Battery to Guam as the core of Task Force Talon and the installation of a second early warning system--Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance System (AN/TPY 2) in forward-based mode to Japan, relays an important and evident message of commitment to defend our common interests. Our continued participation in Joint/Combined Integrated Air and Missile Defense training and exercises act as a significant opportunity to enhance capabilities, build relationships, and demonstrate resolve to potential adversaries. All of this is done within a framework that is inherently joint and multi-national.
During times of dynamism and transformation, providing ready Army forces and capabilities to the USPACOM commander demands innovation and creativity. In response, USARPAC has changed the way we conceptualize training, implement our current exercises and engagements, seeking to employ our most prepared and ready forces (which we, as an Army, have done perpetually over the last decade of global deployments) through an innovative approach to Army presence in the region for exercises entitled "Pacific Pathways." In July, USARPAC launched 2014 Pacific Pathways Proof of Principle with the employment of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Joint Base Lewis McChord in an extended expeditionary engagement and exercise rotation. This employment began with a 30-day rotation to the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, California, followed by deployments to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan for participation in Garuda Shield, Keris Strike, and Orient Shield exercises, respectively. Conducted as an operation, with extended lines of communication across the entire Pacific, with the use of air and sea transport, and with mission command applied from USARPAC in Hawaii through I Corps in Washington State through a deployed tactical command post of the 25th Infantry Division to the Task Force's deployed command element, Pacific Pathways builds upon USARPACs current engagement strategy by enhancing Shaping efforts with trained and ready forces positioned west of the International Date Line for extended durations and increasing the depth of our Regional Partnership Programs through increased complexity of our existing bilateral exercises and training events.
The FY14 Proof of Principle includes a Stryker equipped Task Force with Aviation assets; it employs some of the Army's most ready units; and it provides the US Pacific Command Commander a prepared force in the likelihood of a contingency. FY14 Pacific Pathways lessons learned will be applied to the subsequent 5-year plan that includes 29 Exercises (14 Joint, 15 Army Bilats) in 12 Indo-Asia-Pacific countries (to include 5 treaty allies). Pacific Pathways directly reflects the Army's Regional Alignment of Forces and allows US Army Pacific to employ scalable and tailorable packages throughout the region in exercises and engagements where Soldiers increase their cultural awareness, working with multiple foreign partners while continuing to develop individual and collective training skills. Pacific Pathways is a visible demonstration of the United States' commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region's security--US Soldiers working alongside partner nations and joint forces, a part of the military expression of the strategic rebalance.
US Army Pacific has also taken steps to streamline command relationships within the Pacific Army to operationalize the US Army Pacific headquarters while building habitual relationships and cultural understanding that our partners deem trustworthy and reliable. Streamlining includes: regionally aligning US Army Pacific's Deputy Commanding Generals to the north and south of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region; clarifying and codifying I Corps' role as a deployable joint headquarters command element with day to day oversight of the 25th Infantry Division and the readiness of all deployable brigades aligned to the Pacific. And clarifying the roles and responsibilities of Army Forces headquarters supporting three joint sub-unified commands, namely: US Army Japan supporting US Forces Japan; Eighth Field Army as Army Forces -- Korea supporting US Forces Korea and supported by a forward element of the USARPAC staff on the Korean peninsula; and US Army Alaska supporting US Alaskan Command; and increasing the number of assigned Soldiers and units to USARPAC under US PACOM's combatant command authorities. These internal changes within USARPAC have already made substantial gains in improving the efficiency of Army (and land force) operations within a forward-based joint force, which is key when time and proximity determine success or failure.
Streamlining command relationships links directly to building ties with regional armies and land domain stakeholders because there are now clearly defined representatives with whom to interface and build trust. This concept applies not only to our regional allies and partners, but also to our sister services, especially since US Army Pacific possesses unique executive agency tasks--such as Army Support to Other Services4--that are vital to the success of the US Pacific Command Theater Campaign Plan, in the land, air, maritime, cyber and space domains. Recently designated the Theater Joint Forces Land Component Command by the US Pacific Command Commander, US Army Pacific must embody a "joint mindset" to synchronize our actions with Marine Forces Pacific, Special Operations Command Pacific, and other US Pacific Command functional components to include the Theater Joint Force Air Component and Maritime Component Commands. This synchronization helps further true interoperability, achieve synergy, and avoid redundancy across the services while maximizing support across the region and conserving valuable resources.
The critical enabling of joint and multi-national forces, provided by USARPAC's theater enabling commands from the active Army and the Army Reserve, namely, 8th Sustainment Command (Theater), 311th Signal Command (Theater), 9th Mission Support Command, 351st Civil Affairs Command, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade (Theater), 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, and 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), expand the reach of the joint force and increase the value of the Army's expeditionary campaigning capabilities.
Over the past decade, US Army Pacific has been focused on supporting combat activities in Southwest Asia and meeting urgent short-term readiness goals for the Army. However, we must now shift sights toward long-term readiness in support of the joint force in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. The Nation requires a joint force that can assure, deter, compel, and support to advance or protect our national interests anytime, anywhere. Our mission and force structure have changed, but our relationships and common understanding, where we meet as people in the human domain, remains the enduring constant. Our Army is the strategic foundation of national defense, at home and abroad, providing a seamless continuum of options and US Army Pacific is our Army's lead element into the new era of Indo-Asia-Pacific dynamics. The lessons we learn now in applying the aforementioned approaches will help to inform the Army's Operating Concept, and both the design and the employment of the Army in 2025. It is an exciting time to serve our Nation, especially in the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.