Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center Media Roundtable, October 27, 2022

By U.S. Army Public AffairsOctober 28, 2022

Moderator: LTC Jamie Dobson, PAO for 25th Infantry division. Today we’ve got General Charles Flynn, the Commanding General for U.S. Army Pacific, and General Jeff VanAntwerp, the Deputy Commander for 25th Infantry Division. We are here to talk about the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center and the Rotation 2301, which kicks off soon. We’re going to have opening comments from General Flynn, then we will go around and do one question and one follow-up. We have 30 minutes. This is all on the record, and I will call out in order that you guys checked in. So if anyone has not checked in, if you could please let me know you’re here now and then I’ll pass it over to General Flynn for opening comments.

General Charles Flynn: Good afternoon, good morning from Hawaii everyone, and thanks for -- thanks for helping and talking today. So, JPMRC is the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center. It’s an Army regional combat training center in the Indo-Pacific. It has three campuses, one here in Hawaii spread between the eight islands and the training areas that we have here in Hawaii, a campus in Alaska between the Donnelly and Yukon training area, and then we have an exportable version that we have brought into the region the last two years and into Indonesia. This year it will go into Australia. Um -- a couple -- a couple of key points, I think, about the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center is this allows us to keep trained and ready forces available and forward in the region. It allows us to generate readiness in environments and in conditions that we’re most likely to operate in, that being Arctic, jungle, back to the Arctic, extreme cold weather or mountain, and then here, you know, jungle tropic, and archipelago arrangement of islands here in Hawaiian island chain. It also allows us to generate readiness here in what could be considered the third island chain to be able to respond forward into the region. It allows us to rehearse with a number of joint and multinational partners, one on a multinational lane. It is actually easier for these countries to come here and again, the environments in Hawaii and the Hawaiian islands and in Alaska look a lot like the region, so the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana does not look like southeast Asia, but these eight Hawaiian islands certainly do, and then the same thing for a force from Alaska that’s going into India right now for [*00:02:49] in the Himalayan Mountains and those mountains, and the extreme cold weather conditions up in Alaska replicate that. It also gives us an opportunity to experiment here in Hawaii and Alaska, again in environments and in conditions that are very different from the training centers in the continental United States. And then lastly, it gives us another opportunity to train with our allies and partners and the land power network that is so vital to protecting national sovereignty across this region. I’m gonna go back in time a little bit for some of you. I was the 25th Infantry -- the point I make here is that this is not something that we just came up with in the last 12 or 18 months. In 2014 when I was 25th Division commander and General Vince Brooks was in the job that I’m in right now as the Commanding General U.S. Army Pacific, he actually went to the National Training Center and brought a set of towers out here and that was sitting at the National Training Center to be an exportable training center for the Army. It wasn’t really being used because we were just on a conveyor belt back and forth to the Middle East, but if you remember in ’13, the Pivot to the Pacific happened, we brought the towers out here and in ’14, really from my time out here from ’14 to ’18, we had done about at that time about 11 rotations between Hawaii, Alaska and the Yakima training area, and then in the three years that I departed and went back to the Pentagon, they continued to do that up to about 11 rotations. But this last year was when the decision was made to build a training center in the Pacific, and so we now have the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center, and this is the Army’s contribution to the Indo-Pacific commanders’ prioritized list task of the Pacific Multinational training and experimentation capability that has long been on a priority list for even the previous PACOM commanders when I was here back as early as 2014. So I’ll pause here, I’ll shift to Jeff, General Jeff VanAntwerp, the Deputy Command General of the 25th Division, who can go into a little more specifics about the rotation.

Deputy Commanding General Jeff VanAntwerp: All right sir, appreciate it. So, just to kind of give you an idea of the scale of the exercise here. We’ll have about 6000 personnel in total that are in the box training, and then much larger participation on the outside providing some of the exercise control and the, sort of the back side to make this thing work. This is intended to be the most immersive training environment we can create, so the most realistic training environment short of combat. The core element that we’re training here is our second brigade combat team. That said, we’ve got a host of other joint and multinational partners as the boss mentioned there. You know, principally I just want to share with you, we have got 3 different companies, one from Thailand, one from Indonesia and one from the Philippines as our infantry companies. We’ve got soft participation from First Special Forces group, several teams in a headquarters operating here, great participation from the Air Force in terms of lift, fires and defensive counter-air, and then we’ve got participation from the Navy and the Marines, the Navy using a destroyer we actually just launched a soft team off a destroyer last night and filled a helicopter with our Combat Aviation Brigade and we’ve got the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment participating out here, as well, doing what they do. So this would be about in terms of the IMERSA portion, about a 10 to 12-day IMERSA portion in the box. That said, they’ve been at it in planning and preparation for well over a week. So the whole -- the whole purpose here from the division level with my boss, Major General Joe Ryan being the senior trainer, is to generate readiness at that brigade level and all of the associated [*00:06:48] within the division for use in this theater, and that will begin right after the turn of the year in kind of the most tangible way as we deploy to Operation Pathways. Thank you, sir.

Moderator Jamie: Hey, I’ll jump in. I apologize. We also have Colonel Scott Shaw, the Operations Officer for First Corps, on the line, as well, for questions, and with that I’ll open it up to questions and I’ll go to Gina Cavillaro first. Gina?

Gina Cavillaro: Hi, thanks, Jamie. Thanks for doing this. The question I have is how is the -- how are the operations manned, like the training brigade and the OB 4, with U.S. Soldiers? And if so, how is that happening when operational units are kind of low on their manning? How have you manned it?

BGJVA: So, good question. This is Jeff VanAntwerp. So we have resourced the opposing force with two battalions from within our own division and they are enhanced by -- we’ve got a host of cadre out from the National Training Center that are assisting us in our own tray dock to attempt to replicate as close as possible adversary tactics so that we’re not basically fighting, you know, a mirror image of ourselves. In addition, we have provided our opposing force with some additional activities -- or capabilities to better replicate adversary capability in terms of small UAS, GPS and radio jamming, that kind of stuff. And so this is a fairly common practice even at, you know, the CONUS CTCs we often resource forward augment from our own division.

GCF: Hey Gina, if I could -- this is General Flynn. I just want to add on what I think is important here, as well, is while the division is the senior trainer and the brigade combat team comes from the division and they can, you know, augment that, actually have an opposing force built to do it, there is also -- you know we have about 28 to 30,000 out here in the Army just in Hawaii, and so we have, you know, medical command, engineering command, missile defense, reserve command, civil affairs command, I mean we have plenty of assets out here that can help with all of the things that you’ve asked -- that you’ve touched on there -- opposing forces, observer controllers, and people involved in the scenario itself to give that immersive and realistic training experience to the forces involved. Over.

GC: Okay. One quick follow-up, thank you for that, General. One quick follow-up is how often will there be rotations in the Hawaii, Alaska in exportable capabilities. Thank you.

GCF: Yeah, so I’ll take that one, General Flynn. So we are planning to do one in Hawaii, one in Alaska and one in the region, so essentially there’ll build three of these a year. Now, I think what’s important, Gina, is to note that we were taking brigades tactical units out of Alaska and tactical units out of Hawaii and we were sending them back through the Panama Canal to Texas to go to Louisiana to train, and so the amount of time, you know, to transit and transport the people and the equipment back to Louisiana and then get the training done in Louisiana and then bring that force back to Hawaii or Alaska, you know, in the fall or in the winter, you know, it really -- it really doesn’t make sense. I mean there’s a reason why we have a training center in Europe and we don’t bring tactical forces back from Europe to the continental United States to train. We just never created a combat training center out here in the Pacific, but we have now, and I’ll use the Arctic as an example. There is absolutely no reason to bring forces out of the Arctic Circle in Alaska to Louisiana in the winter. They need to stay up there in the winter and train in the winter so we can learn how to live and operate so we can fight in those kind of conditions. Over.

Moderator Jamie: Thanks, Gina. I’ll go Ellie Kaufman next. Ellie? [silence] Okay, nothing heard. Let me move on to Wyatt Olson, Stars and Stripes. Wyatt?

Wyatt Olson:  Hi, thanks for taking this time to talk to us. Um, could you -- it’s a bit of nitty gritty. Could you just describe a bit how the 2nd Brigade team will be trained? Like what’s the scenario? What are they going to be doing specifically about that team?

BGJVA: Sure, this is Jeff VanAntwerp. So, what we’ve done is working with our training doctrine command and the exercise control, which is actually run by a unit that is a direct report to USARPAC, the 196th, they have developed a scenario which is a Pacific scenario, and it’s a LSCO large-scale combat operation type scenario that could replicate a potential scenario in the Pacific. So sectional adversary, albeit replicating, you know, what is a potential actual adversary, and it’s got all that you would expect in that scenario from a very deep intelligence picture, all of the warfighting functions for that adversary and all of that information is provided to the brigade and then we go out into what is -- what is our, you know, the Hawaiian islands here and then we exercise it. In this case, we’ll do it over three islands in a live sense and then there’s a constructive and virtual wraparound, as well, that they will see in their digital systems that replicates a larger fight that’s all sort of within that same scenario.

WO: Thank you.

Moderator Jamie: Okay Wyatt, no follow-up? Let’s move on to Todd -- oops sorry.

WO: If I could have a follow-up -- there was mention about experimentation. Could you clue us in as to what maybe is being done that hasn’t been done before in this type of training?

BGJVA: Sure. I think -- so we’ve got experimentation on a couple of different levels. There’s some conceptual experimentation at the division level and below, you know, really surrounding two -- two principal areas. By distributing this brigade over multiple islands, we intend to really put some stress on their sustainment and their command and control. And so do that conceptually they’re having to wrap their minds around how do I -- how do I command and control a brigade when it’s conducting several different activities at different times spread over a large amount of terrain and what we provided on the technical side is, you know one example is some additional commercial communication solutions. You’re familiar with Starlink and things that are going on in other areas -- in order to help them increase the depth, the diversity of their options when it comes to the on-line on-site communications, and also you know they’ve gotten recently some modernization on the communication side from the Army, and so they’re also experimenting with those new systems, as well, and concepts. That’s just kind of one area.

GCF: This is General Flynn. I’ll add a couple things here. You know, we -- [chuckle] we can’t use our watercraft at CONUS’s base training centers, but we can hear and there will be additional experimentations that we do on our watercraft. I also think like a common operational digital picture that we can work on between the joint force assets, because we’re surrounded by joint assets here in Hawaii and Alaska, for us to be able to continue to spiral in new technologies, new capabilities, and then the last one I’d say is just organizational experimentation because third MLR is based here, the multi-domain task forces, JBLM and here, this JPRMC gives us a platform to then do additional experimentation and testing and work through those organizational and interoperability matters, whether they be human, technical or procedure, and so I’m -- I’m really excited about not just what we’re doing right now, but what we can, you know, the potential for this into the future. Over.

Moderator Jamie: Thanks, Wyatt.

WO: Thank you.

Moderator Jamie: Todd Fecks [phonetic]?

Todd Fecks: Yes, gentleman. I was curious about the exportable portion of the CTC, I mean, the nuts and bolts. Is this, you know, a sensor suite package that allows for simulated fires? What exactly about the exportable portion adds to what you’re doing other than, you know, putting soldiers in a training area?

GCF: Yes, yes, I’ll take that, General Flynn. So, um -- I’m not sure how familiar you are with the training centers in the continental United States, but basically what they have are towers up and there’s a -- and that constructive environment allows you to tie together two things: Live forces in the field, so individuals with lasers and then basically a harness that you put on so individuals can have, you know, small unit engagements, and then you can also, in that live environment you can see icons with live forces in the field of like, you know, companies, batteries, troops, battalions, brigades, etc., and then so that’s the individual small unit and formations that you see live in the field. Then you have a constructive layer, and the constructive layer is basically towers that pass those X’s and O’s and those digital pictures to one another, and then above that you have the virtual, which is the simulation part of it, and so in the theater we have put towers in Indonesia, and those towers have talked back to a hub that we have here with other towers in Hawaii, and we’ve done that for the last two years in Indonesia, and this year we’re going to put it in Australia in Talisman Saber in July, August of ’23, this coming year, and why? Because the Australian Army is creating a combat training center much like the ones that we have here in the Pacific and in Europe and in the continental United States, and our intention is to be able to link digitally a live virtual and constructive simulation wrap between Hawaii, Alaska and the region, and Australia and a number of other countries in the region are interested in doing the same thing, and I’m in discussions with, you know, countries like the Japanese Army, the Philippine Army, the Indonesian Army, the Thai Army, to be able to export this into the region because they see the value of the training centers because of their exposure to going to these training centers. I hope that helps paint a picture for you, Todd.

TF: It does, sir, thank you. One short follow-up for either you, sir, or [*00:18:10]. The partner forces. You mentioned Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines infantry units. First of all, other -- company size? Platoon size? And what is their role in this operation? Or this exercise, sorry?

BGJVA: Yes, sir. So they are company size, and the way we’ve broken it out. They did not come with, you know, a higher headquarters minus one, which does have a staff -- the Philippines has a staff embedded at the battalion level, and we’ve offered that to -- to embed members of your staff as you get the tactical benefit of the training, as well, but what we have right now is they have been task organized to each of the battalions within the brigade, it’s got a reconnaissance battalion and it’s got two [*00:18:53] troop battalions, so their task organized to those battalions and they’ll be -- they’ll be basically operating just as that battalion does, and that’s kind of the beauty of operating with these partners on a habitual basis. In fact, you know the Indonesian company that’s here was the same that was operating with one of our battalions in [*00:19:11], so it was like gold home week when the folks arrived. So we have a pretty high level of interoperability with many of these partners.

Moderator Jamie: Thanks, Todd. Eva Kovachava [phonetic]? Eva? Okay. Nothing heard. Louie Martinez? Louie?

Louie Martinez: Hi, just a quick clarification before I get to my question. General VanAntwerp mentioned 6000 troops participating right now. What iteration is it that we’re talking about?

BGJVA: Yeah, so we’ve got 6000 that will be totally kind of caught in the box, the folks that are immersed in the training event. So they are operating in scenario, and that will be throughout the duration of the event. At this point, we’ll just kind of where we’re at in the whole progression. They’ve all received their orders and they are in there, they’re basically making their way to the islands in the form of a joint forceable entry, and they will -- they will begin contact with the enemy starting here this weekend, that’ll go for about 10 days or so.

GCF: We refer to it as the Rotational Training Unit, so what Jeff is referring to is they would be the competitive force that is being opposed, so they’re in a fight.

LM: This is a JPMRT event then, what’s happening?

BGJVA: Yes, that’s right.

GCF: Yes.

LM: Okay.  So my question ties to today’s release of the unclassified MDS. How does this level of training go with the threat that posed by China?

GCF: I’ll take this. I -- so training in, again in an environment and in conditions that replicate the region with the joint force and our multinational partners increases our readiness to respond to any threats in this region, and so these locations in Alaska and Hawaii, they are exactly the type of conditions and environment that we need to be able to train in, operate in so that if called upon to fight in, that we are prepared as soldiers, as leaders, as commanders, as units, with everything from our skills to our tactics, techniques, procedures, to the types of equipment that we would need in a jungle and in the Arctic, and so this is -- these campuses, if you will, in Hawaii and Alaska, are exactly the kind of conditions we need to put our formations in. Over.

LM: And then just a quick follow-up. Since the MDS focuses so much on China, I mean is the thinking here that the scenarios at which you’ll be fighting would involve China? And I think General VanAntwerp has spoken about replicating [*00:22:24] from OB 4 so that you’re not fighting yourself, so are you fighting -- is the OB 4 in turn taking over -- how do I say this -- the Chinese planning or for military doctrine, in other words.

GCF: So these are scenarios that are left without, you know, designated names, so we look at all of the threats that we have in the region here, and we create a scenario that challenges our leaders, soldiers, commanders, and organizations to operate against any adversary and any threat that might immerge here.

Moderator Jamie: Thanks, Louie. Over to Lauren Williams?

Lauren Williams: Hi, thank you all for doing this. I wanted to see if you could give any more examples of what tech would be used during the training exercise? You mentioned small UAS, you mentioned the stressing of C2 systems, I was wondering if you had any more examples of that?

GCF: Sure. So I guess the first is, we’ve -- we’ve not restricted the OB 4 either from kind of a conceptual perspective or from a leveraging technology perspective. They’re allowed to be as free-thinking an enemy as the BLUEFOR. The rotational unit is a free-thinking adversary. What we’ve done to enable them and to kind of -- the last question -- enable a more kind of higher end adversary is we’ve augmented them with some GPS jamming capability. We have augmented them, as mentioned, with additional UAS both small and large, and then with additional more powerful radiofrequency jamming, RF jamming, and then with some ability to conduct network attack, cyberattack and cyber surveillance, in order to basically hold every part of the brigade and their networks and their C2 and their sustainment and their maneuver capability attempt to hold it at risk. And, you know, not in actually from a technological perspective, but from a capability perspective we’ve also given them -- we see with most of our adversaries, which is you know a good amount of artillery, long-range artillery, long-range rockets, very capable integrated air defense, etc.

Moderator Jamie: Got a follow-up, Lauren? Okay. We’ve gone through the list, so we can start with closing comments?

GCF: Jeff, you got anything you want to add to wrap up here?

BGJVA: I guess the last thing I’d say, Sir, is, you know, this promises to be the most difficult event that this brigade commander and his staff and the folks that are going into this box are going to experience, as this should be for those who go to a CTC, and the thing that they’re all looking forward to on the back end is the deployment of these same partners and others as part of Operation Pathways come the turn of the year.

GCF: And I’ll just wrap up by saying this capability here is -- is unique in that it keeps forces forward in the region. We generate readiness in the environment and in the conditions around Hawaii and Alaska that best replicates the region. We’re surrounded by joint assets to be able to increase our joint readiness and we’re bringing multinational partners from the region to here and to Alaska to be able to increase our interoperability to human technical and procedural aspects of interoperability that are so critical for our ally and partner network across this region. The last comment I’d make is that the higher command for this is the 25th Infantry Division, and this puts, you know, leaders like Brigade General Jeff VanAntwerp, the Deputy Commanding General of the 25th, and the 25th Infantry Division Commander Joe Ryan, in a higher command position because they’re -- they are the senior trainer of the subordinate tactical units, and they need to be deeply immersed, if you will, in the training, preparation, manning, organizing, equipping and basically creating the conditions for readiness of tactical formations, and we are blessed to have that organization here to do that, as well as the 11th Airborne Division up in Alaska, and then in this command, U.S. Army Pacific, the theater Army, we have a training support brigade, the 196th Brigade, which actually is the exercise control headquarters for this because that command out here is unique in the U.S. Army in that it does mobilization training for COMPO 2 and 3 soldiers and individuals, so their -- their charter is actually very similar to training, not just National Guard and Reserve, but also active forces, so we have this unique capability out here with the 196th and we have basically built this training center around the capacity and capabilities of that training support brigade in addition to what the theater Army provides and what the two divisions provide 11th Airborne Division in Alaska and the 25th Division here in Hawaii. So, I appreciate you taking time to talk and ask questions about this really great capability that we’ve been able to build out here in the Pacific. So thanks.

Moderator Jamie: Thanks everybody.