McCarthy: Exercises in Indo-Pacific encouraging allies to invest

By Ashley Tressel / January 10, 2020 at 12:01 PM

The Army's efforts to aid and train in the Indo-Pacific region have bolstered partnerships with those countries, who are seeking to develop their own concepts for great power competition, service Secretary Ryan McCarthy said today.

"Our operations in the Pacific include training with Army forces, helping Thailand stand up their new Stryker units as their new Stryker vehicles, 15 in fact, are arriving right now," McCarthy said at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "The Philippines has asked for more help in training 72 infantry battalions as they upgrade their equipment and evolve their doctrine. While we continue to do traditional security cooperation, we are also employing new capabilities and using the Indo-Pacific as grounds to test our new concept known as multidomain operations, or MDO."

He stressed the importance of preparing forces in the region for sudden conflict, saying that right now, "If conflict with a great power competitor occurred, the United States would be unable to easily bomb strategic locations and safely flow in forces."

The secretary said Japan, Thailand and Singapore are developing their own "MDO-like concepts" in concert with the Army.

Additionally, the service in 2020 is sending forces on five-month-long extended rotations to Thailand, Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

"We are not only providing persistent presence and coordination with our allies and partners, we are also expanding the scope, duration, scale and locations of our training and exercises with partners to push into new areas," McCarthy said.

Exercises to date focusing on threats spelled out in the National Defense Strategy include the first experiments with the multidomain task force intelligence, information, cyber, electronic warfare and space units, known as I2CEWS, in fiscal year 2018; Exercise Orient Shield in FY-19 with Japanese ground self-defense forces operating in the East China Sea and task force units distributed across the Senkaku Islands; and Pacific Pathways, which began in 2014.

In FY-20, McCarthy said, the Army plans to conduct Defender 2020, incorporating long-range precision fires and long-range precision effects.

"By FY-21, the Army will position a multidomain task force in the Indo-Pacific theater and deploy a second one in FY-22," he added.