A Soldier and Marine observe Roll on/Roll off operations of U.S. Marine Corps equipment on an Army logistics support vessel in preparation for a recent movement within the Hawaiian Islands. Providing support to other services is a part of what the Army brings to the joint fight.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier and Marine observe Roll on/Roll off operations of U.S. Marine Corps equipment on an Army logistics support vessel in preparation for a recent movement within the Hawaiian Islands. Providing support to other services is a part of what the Army brings to the joint fight. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL
Army watercraft LSV-3 executes a beach landing off the shore of an island in the Western Pacific during exercise Defender Pacific 20.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Army watercraft LSV-3 executes a beach landing off the shore of an island in the Western Pacific during exercise Defender Pacific 20. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL
The 7th Dive Team, 130th EN Bde, 8th TSC, conduct a hydrographic survey to facilitate the harbor clearance of Alcan harbor at Eareckson Air Station, Alaska to keep Pacific Air Forces operational in the far reaches in Aleutian Islands.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The 7th Dive Team, 130th EN Bde, 8th TSC, conduct a hydrographic survey to facilitate the harbor clearance of Alcan harbor at Eareckson Air Station, Alaska to keep Pacific Air Forces operational in the far reaches in Aleutian Islands. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

The National Defense Strategy (NDS) guides us as we enhance our readiness, strengthen alliances and partnerships, and reform to align our resources with our highest priorities. The Pacific remains the top priority. It is too important to ignore that this is the most contested region in the world, and absolutely vital to global economics, trade, and stability. The NDS places primary emphasis on the great power competition, with a particular focus on China. China represents the greatest long-term strategic threat to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Russia, North Korea, and violent extremist organizations are also threats impacting this area of operation.

The competition that started with tensions over trade and technology has moved beyond the economic domain. China has been steadily building comprehensive national power for decades to displace all other powers in the international order, especially the United States. China’s aggressive territorial ambitions and actions create friction and raise concern with many countries in the region. China is the single largest economic contributor in the region, funding megaprojects focused on logistics and transportation infrastructures like ports, highways, and high-speed rail. Additionally, nearly 60% of global maritime trade passes through Asia and it is estimated that one-third of global shipping passes through the South China Sea. In the realm of sustainment, Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) is not limited to kinetic means. Using tethered economic investment, land reclamation within the Spratly Islands, and recent vaccine diplomacy, China continues to expand its influence across the region and challenge the post-WWII International order.

In this competitive environment, we remain committed to the joint force and executing our critical role in the implementation of a comprehensive strategy for the region. U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) is the largest of our Army’s service components with more than 90,000 personnel assigned, and more available, serving throughout the Indo-Pacific area of operation. From the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India, and from the North Pole to the South Pole, there are 36 countries in the region with more than 4 billion people, comprising more than 60% of the world’s population. This region also contains four of the five priority security challenges identified by the Department of Defense and includes frequent natural and man-made disasters, the negative impacts of climate change, rapid population growth, and of course, disease and pandemics.

We continue to navigate this critical time in the Indo-Pacific through our operations, activities, and investments that afford us the opportunities to test, evaluate, and prepare strategies, partnerships, and our force – joint, combined, and inter-agency. USARPAC is set to posture and prepare Army forces, sustain, and protect those forces to ensure they have the freedom of action to operate within an integrated joint, combined, interagency, all-domain environment in competition, crisis, and conflict. As the Army component in the Pacific, these challenges consume our attention. Army logisticians are the key to our success as we compete with those who seek to change the international order.

Army Support to Other Services (ASOS)

As a standing Theater Joint Force Land Component Commander (TJFLCC) during competition, USARPAC can shift from competition to crisis, or conflict, and is responsible for the coordination of joint and coalition land forces within the theater. The Army provides upwards of 51% of the foundational capabilities to the combatant commander and included within these capabilities is the Army’s support to other services (ASOS) requirements.

The ASOS requirements are expanded further in joint doctrine (JP 3-34) to include Airfield Repair, Sealift Support to Joint Operations, Joint Terminal Operations, Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, Petroleum Storage, Distribution and Protection, Theater Collection Point and Evacuation Support, and Logistics Support to Enemy Prisoners of War. These requirements deeply nest the Army’s sustainment capabilities within the planning considerations for the independent services and the Joint Force Commander’s execution of numbered operational plans (OPLANS). As planners identify the ASOS requirements, sustainers are developing a framework to establish a series of sustainment running estimates for the theater to provide a holistic look at joint force and partner nation capabilities throughout the theater to drive multiple lines of effort across USARPAC and Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM).

Theater Sustainment Posture Review

The 8th Theater Sustainment Command, USARPAC’s senior logistics headquarters, designed, executed, and delivered a theater sustainment posture review (TSPR) in January 2021. The purpose of the TSPR is to enable USARPAC to “see the theater” and see ourselves in phase zero and phase one configuration and conduct operational sustainment analysis to identify current sustainment capability strengths, gaps, and shortfalls that inform current and future operational plans. The analysis was not limited to Army capabilities but included a holistic review of joint force capabilities, the strategic infrastructure of partner nations, and the existing access agreements with our partner nations throughout the theater.

A threat assessment, through a

sustainment lens, of strategic sustainment infrastructure and capabilities across the region influences the TJFLCC’s protection planning considerations. Protection of sustainment infrastructure, including host nation capabilities, is a critical consideration to preserve the options providing freedom of action, enabling operational reach, and prolonging operational endurance for the supported maneuver commanders. The TSPR threat analysis and study through the lens of sustainers assessed how and where our competitors have employed a non-kinetic, A2/AD strategy, to gain the decisive advantage over the United States in the region. Our most prominent competitor, China, is accomplishing this through tethered development agreements and infrastructure investments through their “Belt and Road Initiative” to shape the regional environment in their favor. Other adversaries are advancing their capabilities to position themselves as dominant players in the Pacific.

The consolidated International Agreement analysis also informs the combatant commands Theater Engagement Strategy. Through our inform, influence, engage, educate line of effort, the analysis allows USARPAC to focus resources to identify high payoff operations, activities, and investments (OAIs) to expand access and develop the sustainment infrastructure required to open the theater and establish the distribution network.

The foundation of our ability to expand our posture within the theater is predicated on the strength and depth of our access agreements. Access directly correlates to our ability to establish new agreements and expand current agreements with our partner nations to enable leveraging of their national and commercial sustainment capabilities/commodities—fuel, water, fresh fruits and vegetables, transportation, etc.—within the Pacific island chains. Leveraging partner nations to source commodities with high operational demand quantities provides flexibility for sustainment planners to resource as far forward in the theater as possible and mitigates risk by lowering requirements sourced from the strategic support area (SSA). The mitigation of this risk enables operational reach, ensures freedom of maneuver, and prolongs endurance supporting joint and multinational forces if conditions shift from competition to crisis or conflict. The in-depth analysis provides sourcing options to counter disruptive actions, maintain sustainment-to-sustainment operations, and maintain operational tempo.

After the international agreement analysis, the TSPR expanded the aperture to analyze the current posture of key commodities, infrastructure, and capabilities across the region. This included but was not limited to airports, seaports, fuel refineries and storage locations, maintenance and repair facilities, and the capabilities inherent within the joint force (i.e. water purification, additive manufacturing, etc.).

Four themes resonated throughout the analysis:

  • Access and authorities are essential to conducting theater opening, theater distribution, and theater sustainment to build and sustain combat power, provide operational reach, and prolong operations and endurance to the supported commander.
  • Global power projection and sustainment of the joint force is a strategic competitive advantage for the United States but will be heavily contested in the future.
  • The Joint Logistics Enterprise lacks operational sustainment and distribution capabilities, presence, and infrastructure across the entire Indo-Pacific.
  • The current positioning of strategic stocks and critical supplies are vulnerable to adversarial influence and threats risking access and availability in the time of need.

The analysis identified targeted engagement requirements for the theater sustainment assessment team (TSAT) as it evaluated OAI opportunities. The TSPR identified OAIs that nested well with USARPAC’s theater support campaign and theater engagement plans. The first TSAT deployed west of the international date line (IDL) initiating a series of planned engagements across the region.

Theater Sustainment Assessment Team

The TSAT is a capability-organized team that is task-organized to assess theater opening, distribution, and sustainment capabilities of a partner nation. This includes seaport, airport/airfield, inland transportation (road and rail), warehousing, beach landing, communications infrastructure, and protection of key assets. The flexibility of the TSAT configuration allows the team to be composed of various experts - transportation experts to analyze road, waterway, and airport infrastructure; engineering dive teams capable of analyzing surface and subsurface seaport facilities and infrastructure; and signal experts capable of analyzing landline, cellular, and satellite communications capabilities.

Before deployment, the team uses existing data from classified and unclassified information systems to analyze the infrastructure, topography, communication networks, government, and economic investment. Engagements with the U.S. Embassy and country teams assist with assessing the interests of the partner nation government and their willingness to cooperate and support the objectives of the TSAT. The team leverages the established relationships with the partner nation armed forces through the Security Force Assistance Brigade teams and the joint force initiatives across the region to assess capabilities and answer numerous requests for information (RFI). Upon completion of the initial assessment, the TSAT develops a focused engagement plan to answer open RFI’s and maximize their assessment activities while on the ground.

The first TSAT deployed west of the IDL in February 2020 and was greeted by the U.S. Embassy country team. Their efforts will allow us to establish a clear understanding of the host country’s sustainment infrastructure and capabilities while simultaneously highlighting our commitment to the region. The TSAT will update running sustainment estimates, contribute to the USARPAC and INDOPACOM theater engagement strategy, and identify possible OAIs to remain aligned with the United States, and its allies and partners in the region.

With sustainment professionals leading the way, the opportunities for additional OAIs continue to expand. Sustainers enable operational reach, ensure freedom of action, and prolong operational endurance for the supported maneuver commanders. Additional TSAT deployments will continue to expand our access, presence, and influence throughout the region, deepen our relationships with current partner nations, and bring new nations into the alliance, adding to our ability to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The importance of strengthening partnerships and cultivating new relationships has never been more important. We must be strategically predictable, but operationally unpredictable in order to effectively compete, respond in a crisis, and win in conflict. Winning versus our adversaries means recognizing the type of fight we are in, the size of the playing field, the degree of intensity of the game plan, and the associated risks. Winning will require uniting forces globally, organizing our resources, taking action daily to raise the costs of China's malign behavior, make our allies/partners less vulnerable, deter aggression, and regain advantages lost over the last decade. This is how we win without fighting, but we cannot forget that in a fight the last 100 meters is the most dangerous piece of earth; we must be prepared to fight and win there. Competition does not mean conflict, but if a conflict comes, we will be prepared to fight and win because we can sustain joint combat operations.


Gen. Paul J. LaCamera is currently serving as the U.S. Army Pacific commanding general based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. He previously served as the commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and as commander, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, Iraq and Syria. He has had the honor to lead and serve with members of all military branches, inter-agency colleagues, and coalition partners from platoon through corps, and a combined joint task force. His education includes a Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Military Academy and a Master of Arts degree from the U.S. Naval War College.

Col. Theodore O. White is the deputy commander of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Fort Shafter, and has completed command at every level through the brigade. He received his commission as a quartermaster officer from Florida A&M University with a degree in accounting and holds master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University and The Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.


This article was published in the April-June 2021 issue of Army Sustainment.


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