Forward Deployment Key to Pacific Power Shift
Existing forward-deployed U.S. military elements may be learning a new definition of the phrase as Pacific forces adjust to a new regional emphasis. The rebalancing that represents a new strategy for the Asia-Pacific region will be altering force structures that already represent forward deployments.
The U.S. Navy never left the forward deployment of its forces, said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, USN, deputy commander and chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Speaking at a panel in TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii, the admiral allowed that forward deployment is essential for the force to be able to operate with an effective presence in the vast multinational region.
“You have to be there to vote,” he said. “If you’re not forward deployed, then you don’t get to vote.”
Adm. Driscoll explained that the nature of the fleet’s forward deployment will be changing. For example, the newest littoral combat ship will be deployed to Singapore. He emphasized that this will be a deployment, not a basing, and it will be on a rotational basis.
The Marine Corps is taking a similar approach to its own forward deployment requirements. Brig. Gen. Richard L. Simcock II, USMC, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, explained how the Corps will be making use of diverse assets—such as dry-cargo vessels—to complement other mission-specific platforms such as San Antonio-class landing platform dock (LPD) ships and joint high-speed vessels. Gen. Simcock stated that it is critical for the Marines to be in the right place at the right time, “and no one’s crystal ball can predict [where and when],” hence the need for forward deployment.