SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HAWAII – Maj. Gen. Jered Helwig, Commanding General of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, hosted senior leaders from across the Department of Defense and other allied nations as part of the Unified Pacific Wargame Series sustainment-focused event, Pacific Joint Allied Sustainment System (JASS), held at Schofield Barracks April 3-7.
Designed to help the Army, Indo-Pacific Command, and DoD refine resourcing and posture discussions and decisions, the inaugural Unified Pacific Wargame Series ran from January through May 2022 and included participation from hundreds of people from across the U.S. defense, diplomatic and academic community.
In September, U.S. Army Pacific published the findings of the 2022 Unified Pacific Wargame Series, which offered vital insights to build on and inform similar analytic efforts, such as the Joint Staff’s Globally Integrated Wargame, the U.S. Navy’s GLOBAL series, and Army Futures Command’s Indo-Pacific Threat Based Assessment. These findings influenced the focus of this year’s series. Pacific Winds, the first in the 2023 Unified Pacific Wargame Series series series, was held in January of this year using insights from the 2022 series.
Similar in format to Pacific Winds, the Pacific JASS wargame comprised of two distinct but connected tracks, a senior leader discussion forum, and an action-officer level, computer-aided wargame. The senior leader portion allowed for strategic-level discussions and conclusions based on the outcomes of the action-officer-level wargame. One emphasis of the wargame included the importance of integration of the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces
“The Theater Sustainment Wargame allows us to assess the structure, processes, and capabilities for joint theater logistics at the scale and speed of war,” said Helwig, “Exercises throughout the year allow us to employ the physics of sustainment. This Wargame provides an opportunity for us to practice the philosophy of sustainment. Integration across the services and components eliminates boundaries between logistics elements.”
More than 200 sustainment and logistics experts, senior leaders, and operators from five nations and more than 30 defense and sustainment organizations participated in the Pacific JASS wargame, the first ever of its kind. In attendance as part of a larger Pacific visit, Representative Betty McCollum and her Congressional Delegates listened in as senior leaders held their strategic discussions.
Gen. Charles Flynn, Commander, U.S. Army Pacific, in attendance at the Theater Sustainment Wargame, weighed in on the value of such training.
"Through war gaming, U.S. Army Pacific tests and validates our operational design. Then we take the insights from those war games and bring them to what we do every day; rehearsing, experimenting, learning, and we grow from it. And I think we show our strength by learning and growing."
Facilitated by the Center for Army Analysis, 39 generals, flag officers, and members of the senior executive service from across the DoD, joint service components, total Army enterprise, and allied nations participated in the senior leader portion of the wargame.
While not physically present at the event, Gen. Charles Hamilton, Commanding General of Army Materiel Command and the Army’s senior sustainer, also acknowledged the critical importance of the sustainment focus of the wargame.
“Sustainment is about warfighting, period. Sustainment has and will continue to be bad for the adversary,” said Hamilton. “The Army Sustainment Enterprise must exercise and engage in tough, realistic training that stresses people, equipment and processes to build and strengthen readiness in support of the Joint Force. Exercises like the Unified Pacific Wargame Series allow us to identify strengths and gaps and assess our posture as we work the continuous process of setting and re-setting the theater.”
Leaders on the ground assessed Joint contested logistics as a key determinant of joint operational endurance and an attractive target to adversaries. It relies on capacity, resilience, and agility to avoid early culmination and must be distributed, mobile, hardened, and defended to survive. It also relies on the right people in the right place.
“In a truly contested environment, when we transition from competition to crisis and conflict, we must have the right leaders, at echelon, to make tough decisions when it comes to priorities for sustainment, not just for their component, but on behalf of the entire Joint Force, based off of priorities from across the services,” concluded Helwig.