The Army will practice rapidly deploying soldiers across the Pacific next year in a message to China

news
Soldiers of 25th Infantry Division enjoy a view during a ride over the island of Oahu, Hawaii. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Sarah D Sangster)

About a year from now, the Army plans to practice rapidly deploying 8,000 to 10,000 soldiers from the mainland through Western Pacific islands and into nations around the East and South China Seas for training that will send a message to China.

The first "Defender Pacific" — the Pentagon's most significant exercise for the region in 2020 — is expected to be followed by an even bigger version involving more than 10,000 mainland soldiers.


Gen. Robert Brown, who stepped down Friday as commander of U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, likes to point out that the United States is in a state of strategic "hyper-competition" with China and Russia.

Advanced missile systems —particularly those of China — have "changed the equation out here in the Pacific" and made it more difficult for U.S. forces to gain access to potentially contested environments in what's called "anti-access/area denial," the four-star general said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

China's road-mobile DF-21D "carrier killer" missile, for example, has a maneuverable warhead, a range exceeding 930 miles and the ability to target aircraft carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific.

The U.S. military is retooling for a potential high-end fight after years of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Army will have not only its traditional land-based role, but a long-range missile mission to hit land targets and sink ships at sea.

The key to deterrence, and victory if warfare becomes necessary, is integration among all the service branches "where air, land, maritime, cyber and space all work together very closely" to rapidly take advantage of windows of opportunity, Brown said.

Over the past three years, dozens of simulations and war games have shown that "when we can work together in a joint (way), and all the domains truly integrate, we can defeat that" anti-access standoff capability, he said.

The Army has embraced the war-fighting concept — which it calls "multi-domain operations." U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is working on a joint doctrine.

"It's been slowly coming (along), and we're really working on pulling it all together," Brown said of multi­domain operations. "And if we do it right, it will lead to peace and a free and open Indo-Pacific, because nobody would be foolish enough to be aggressive and attack our nation, because they know they'd lose."

There's competition in the Pacific "that's unlike anything I've seen," said Brown, who has served in the Army for 38 years. "But competition does not need to be conflict."

Brown stepped down and will be retiring after nearly 3-1/2 years in charge of U.S. Army Pacific and 106,000 active and Reserve soldiers and Army civilians.

Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, XVIII Airborne Corps commander and former head of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, is expected to assume the Pacific post in November.

Long-range firepower is the Army's No. 1 modernization priority, and the service is working on improving the range and lethality of artillery and missiles.

The Army, Navy and Air Force are developing hypersonic weapons that attain speeds of more than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound — at least 3,800 mph — and have a range of 1,400 miles. The Army is expected to field a prototype by fiscal year 2023.

Brown likes to point out the Army could have a significant role in a future fight with its ability to operate from some of the 25,000 islands in the Western Pacific, firing missiles at ships in the littorals, or near-shore waters.

"If you can kill a ship from land, you can influence a lot of things," including securing key choke-points in the South China Sea, Brown said.

The soldiers tapped for the fall 2020 Defender Pacific will deploy through what's referred to as the second and the first island chains to six to 10 Asia-Pacific nations, he said. "Scattered all around," as Brown put it.

The first island chain draws a line from Japan and Taiwan through the Philippines. The second island chain is farther east and runs from Japan to the Mari­ana Islands, Guam and Palau. The People's Republic of China maintains the United States uses the island chains to encircle and contain China.

"This will be heading to exercises to get in the second and first island chains from CONUS (the continental U.S.)," Brown said. "So they can practice, how do they communicate? … How do they bring their equipment? How do they do all of that?"

The 30-day exercise will be held with the Navy and Air Force. Agreements with host nations are still taking shape, Brown said.

"We're in the very early stages. We've got verbal 'Hey, yes, we want to do it' — more interest than I could ever imagine," Brown said. "Everyone is interested because the people want a chance to exercise with the best military in the world."

The exercise will demonstrate the ability to bulk up the approximately 100,000 soldiers assigned to the theater in a hurry. The deployment will include a division headquarters and soldiers drawn from active-duty, National Guard and Army Reserve ranks.

"When you look at Defender Pacific, the idea is, you can talk about being rapidly deployable, being able to get to a fight," Brown said, "but unless you do it, it's talk. You've got to practice it."

---

©2019 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Dustin A. Peters (Cape May County Sheriff's Office)

A former Marine arrested as he tried to enter the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May with a modified AK-47 rifle, handgun, body armor and ammunition faces federal weapons charges, officials said Friday.

Read More
The United Launch Alliance's Delta IV rocket launches with a Wideband Global SATCOM WGS-10 satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Complex 37 on March 15, 2019. The satellite brings enhanced communication capability for command and control of U.S. military forces on the battlefield. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Andrew Satran)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

The US military's newest service, the Space Force, is only about a month old, having been signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20.

Read More
(Cecil Field POW/MIA Memorial, Inc./Facebook)

Military veterans from throughout Northeast Florida came together Saturday morning to honor comrades in arms who were prisoners of war or missing in action, and remember their sacrifice.

Read More
The remains of Army Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin arrived back to Fort Bragg a week after he was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army)

After the plane landed, Pope Army Airfield was silent on Saturday.

A chaplain prayed and a family member sobbed.

Tarah McLaughlin's fingers traced her husband's flag-draped coffin before she pressed two fingers to her lips then pressed her fingers to the coffin.

The remains of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, arrived back to Fort Bragg a week after he was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, also was killed in the same incident.

Read More

The Space Force has a name tape now

popular

The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.

In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.

Read More