Unified Pacific offers critical insights into the Theater Army’s contribution to joint warfighting concepts in the Indo-Pacific

By Lt. Col. Craig ChildsMay 19, 2022

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FORT SHAFTER, HAWAII – Gen. Charles Flynn, U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General, hosted Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and other senior leaders from the Department of Defense and Department of State for the Unified Pacific Wargame Series capstone event at Fort Shafter May 9 to 13.

The Unified Pacific Wargame Series is a series of rigorous, strategic and operational, computer-aided wargames designed to provide critical insights into the Theater Army’s contribution to joint warfighting concepts in the Indo-Pacific.

Gen. James C. McConville, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, sponsored Unified Pacific and attended virtually. McConville emphasized the event’s importance. “The Army plays a critical role in the Indo-Pacific region and we will continue to exercise our strength as a combat credible force and as a member of the joint force alongside strong Allies and Partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Designed to help the Army, Indo-Pacific Command and DoD refine resourcing and posture discussions and decisions, the Unified Pacific series ran from January through May and included participation from hundreds of people from across the U.S. defense, diplomatic and academic community.

Flynn highlighted the unique aspects and value of the lessons learned during the event. “This is going to be invaluable for the Joint Force,” said Flynn. “Wargaming is a way to test your plans. It's a way to look at new concepts. It's a way to identify capability gaps. From the concepts and the capabilities and the gaps that you identify, you can come up with ideas and paths to creating warfighting advantages.”

To create the complex, robust learning environment necessary for Unified Pacific, with depth and realism across the full spectrum of strategic to tactical problem sets, required a huge effort from a team of experts. “The aim was to provide an experiential learning environment for senior leaders to identify and better understand strategic and operational problems,” said Lt., Col. Tim Doyle, Unified Pacific Wargame Series lead planner.

“We also brought in people from the interagency, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense,” said Flynn. “Shout out to the Center for Army Analysis because they have a very unique wargaming capability in that organization. They really created a very rich learning event for us here for Unified Pacific.”

Among the many senior leader participants was the Commanding General of the U.S. Army’s First Corps, based at Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord Washington, Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson, who observed that Unified Pacific was a great exercise for First Corps. “The theater commander counts on us to be the operational warfighting headquarters in the Indo-Pacific, said Brunson. “In order to do that, it's very important to understand the lessons learned and the way those headquarters above are going to fight and win in prevailing conflict.”

“For us, the value is in understanding a little bit more about joint and multi-domain condition settings,” said Brunson. “It’s about thinking about our posture differently. It's about how we go about helping the Theater Army achieve a positional advantage in the Indo-Pacific.”

Flynn went on to describe how the unique design of Unified Pacific’s capstone event helped achieve the overall aims. “One of the things in this war game that I thought was unique is there were two parallel efforts that were going on in the third event that we just completed. One effort was the actual wargaming itself, where there were units, formations, and capabilities in all the domains conducting operations. They were basically doing the action, reaction, counteraction, and then having a series of outcomes. That standard typical wargaming effort was going on in one track. The second track in parallel with that was we had these senior leader seminars and academics to talk about things like interoperability, joint and combined interoperability, to talk about operational endurance and the challenges with operational endurance, and to talk about things like integrated deterrence and joint campaigning. I think the idea of

having those two parallel tracks where there was a fighting element of the war game and a thinking element of the war game was really invaluable. It was very innovative and a creative way to set the war game up. I think the combination of the insights from both the thinking part of it and the fighting part of it is going to be really rich in the final analysis.”