EATONVILLE, Wash. — No phone calls. No text messages. Just face-to-face communication. Military leaders from units throughout the U.S. Indo-Pacific region met with America’s First Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, for the I Corps commanders conference at a secluded conference center east of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Spanning two days with accommodations near the great outdoors, the gathering provided division and brigade command teams the opportunity to collaborate on their approach to Operation PATHWAYS, the annual series of joint multinational exercises spanning all combat domains in the Pacific.
“We are in a time of legacy,” said Brunson. “The legacy of the organizations we lead coupled with the ability to link our combined efforts will set the course of the Army in the Pacific far into the future.”
Participants learned about the significance of the Army’s role in the Pacific, as explained by Dr. John C. McManus, professor of military history at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Brunson.
“It’s incumbent on us to benefit from engagements in the region,” said Brunson. “PATHWAYS affords us the opportunity to do and learn more.”
Participants also heard from retired U.S. Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, who provided his unique expertise and insight as the former U.S. Army Pacific commanding general.
“The most significant demonstration of the U.S. Army’s commitment to the Pacific is the commitment of America’s First Corps to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command,” said Brooks. “We have to be better trained and prepared by conducting reconnaissance and rehearsals while building key relationships with allies and partners to showcase our readiness.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Hostrop, senior enlisted advisor for 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, said he benefited most from learning about the strengths and weaknesses of his fellow commanders and senior enlisted advisors.
“Synchronization is the key to success in any modern battlefield,” said Hostrop. “The conference venue allowed us the opportunity to interact in a professional setting while concentrating on the mission at hand and seeing what is planned moving forward.”
On the last morning, discussions were replaced with a friendly game of football followed by breakfast. Surrounded by nature away from the hustle and bustle of traditional work environments, the location offered leaders an opportunity to connect with one another, build relationships and solidify bonds that will prove invaluable.
“This conference provided a venue to synchronize efforts for Operation PATHWAYS to make sure there are no gaps,” said Lt. Col. Liam Walsh, director of commander’s action group for America’s First Corps. “Lt. Gen. Brunson’s intent was for leaders at the senior level to ensure a shared understanding across all commands while building key relationships with one another.”