The United States acknowledged a long-evolving trend when it initiated the strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. For many years we have needed to place increased emphasis on that vast and dynamic area, and the rebalance has set a course for that important goal. But we are in danger of losing the benefits of the pivot to the Pacific in several ways.
"Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” So went the taunt in the 1987 film The Princess Bride, a comic adventure brimming with clever one-liners. Far from avoiding land war in Asia, we have jumped in repeatedly with both feet, both hands and all the gusto we could muster. In information technology-speak, when it comes to U.S. strategy, fighting on Asian terrain appears to be a feature, not a bug.
As the U.S. Navy modernizes information systems across the fleet, one organization is responsible for researching, developing and fielding the full range of technologies in the Asia-Pacific region, providing complete life cycle development and support for systems, from concept to fielded capability.
The United Nations is running an Asia-Pacific technology transfer program that puts necessary capabilities in the hands of developing countries while improving international relations in the region. Efforts assist large and small states to harness the potential of technology to create a better future for their citizens.
When the U.S. military began its now popularly termed “Asia pivot” a few years ago, the new outward focus on the Pacific region as a national military priority warranted some internal Defense Department focus on how to achieve the mission—to include bumping up the position for the U.S. Army Pacific commander from a three-star general to a four-star.
The U.S. strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region is being challenged by internal and external developments that are changing how the U.S. Pacific Command carries out its missions. Internal developments include budgetary pressures and local disputes. External developments include terrorism that could be migrating into the vast region.
The inertial navigation system (INS) market size is estimated to be $2.75 billion in 2014 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.98 percent to reach $4.63 billion by 2019, according to Research and Markets, a Dublin-based market analysis firm.
China has claimed and built up numerous islands, rocks, atolls and reefs in and near the South China Sea to support territorial claims in waters far away from the Middle Kingdom. Important differences in territorial sea and exclusive economic zones between them explain why some are more important than others.
China and Russia represent two of the most robust, comprehensive concerns to worldwide stability. Almost every major geostrategic threat—cyber attack, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, capable military forces, political influence, economic power, sources of and high demand for energy—is resident in those two countries that often find themselves at odds with the United States and its allies.
A new facility for cybersecurity is allowing U.S. Forces Korea to coordinate efforts with other U.S. commands as well as Republic of Korea civilian government and military forces. The Joint Cyber Center serves as the focal point for increasing international cooperation between U.S. and Korean forces in their defensive measures against increasing cyber aggression from North Korea. It blends activities from the local J-2, J-3 and J-6 along with input from other forces worldwide.
China’s encroachment in the South China Sea for more than 40 years has much more impact on freedom of navigation and international confrontations than on pursuit of resources. While it has been staking territorial rights to oil- and gas-rich island regions also claimed by multiple countries, the Middle Kingdom has been employing maritime forces ranging from fishing boats to Coast Guard and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels in ways that suggest expanded control over oceangoing traffic.
A China-based company has set up an OpenDaylight Lab in Shenzhen, China, joining an expanding global community effort aimed at creating open sources for companies to further software-defined networking.
The rise of new global flashpoints along with a strategic rebalancing are presenting the U.S. Navy with a new set of challenges and obligations concurrent with significant force reductions. The sum of the budget cuts would be enough to tax the service under any circumstances, but they are being implemented against a backdrop of a broader mission set and increased activities by potential foes.
Internal change may be the key to managing external change as the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard enter a new era of limited budgets and unlimited global challenges. From research and development to acquisition, these services are looking toward changing methods and technologies to keep the force viable and accomplish their missions. Meanwhile, a range of adversaries continue striving to find and exploit weaknesses in U.S. capabilities and operations.
The threat of armed conflict arising from China’s disputed assertions of territorial claims could be defused if all parties concerned agree to use international law institutions, said a U.S. Navy attorney. Capt Stuart Bell, USN, deputy assistant judge advocate general (international and operations law), told a Thursday panel audience at West 2014 in San Diego that the rule of law can be applied in most cases involving disputes between China and its neighbors to achieve a peaceful resolution.
The budget reductions that will be a fact of military life for the foreseeable future promise to impel dramatic changes in force structure and military operations. Ongoing needs such as high technology and overseas commitments offer the possibility of being both challenges and solutions, as planners endeavor to plan around a smaller but, hopefully, more capable force.
All the challenges vexing a modern military—budgetary limitations; information technologies; cyber; and joint and coalition interoperability—are defining operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Covering more than half the Earth’s surface and comprising dozens of nations, the vast area is rife with geopolitical rivalries that complicate efforts at regional security. And, the one domain that knows no geographic bounds—cyberspace—weighs heavily on the success of potential warfighting operations in that region.
The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff has updated its maritime joint command and control guidance, reflecting changing practices across the fleet. Although the rewrite is part of regularly scheduled reviews, the timing is apt for world conditions. U.S. attention is moving east to a far more watery environment than the one the country has focused on for the last dozen or more years, and contentions among nations for waterway control continue to mount in areas such as the East China Sea.
The success of Operation Damayan, the massive Philippines typhoon relief effort by the U.S. Pacific Command, owes as much to preparation as to execution, according to a U.S. official involved in the operation. Military communications equipment designed for easy entry and quick activation provided essential networking capabilities. Longtime multinational and bilateral exercises laid the groundwork for interoperability, both technological and organizational, between U.S. and Philippine armed forces.
When the U.S. Marines needed to set up an emergency communications system on site in the wake of the devastating typhoon that ravaged the Philippines in November, they used an existing rapid deployment networking suite, which allowed nearly instant links with the two governments and with nongovernmental organizations as well. And, it all began with equipment carried into theater as if it were checked baggage.