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The Army will practice rapidly deploying soldiers across the Pacific next year in a message to China
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.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.