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Asia-Pacific

Defense Challenges Converge in Asia-Pacific

February 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.

Three days of government, military and industry speakers and panelists from around the Pacific Rim examined these issues at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013, held December 3-5 in Honolulu. The theme of “Building Coalitions Through Cyber” launched discussions that extended far beyond the digital realm.

Cyber was the dominant topic, with dialogues ranging from its advantages to its pitfalls. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), quoted his commander, Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, USN, as saying, “We have built cyber on a house of cards.” Gen. Conant stated PACOM is beholden on what cyber has promised, but its full capabilities may not be available during a conflict. “We’re going to be on a denied battlespace; they won’t let us have all the comms,” Gen. Conant said of cyber activities by adversaries. “We’ll have to learn how to do task forces again.”

Scott Dewar, the Australian consulate general in Honolulu, called for domestic and international coalitions to generate approaches for cybersecurity. Effective cybersecurity ultimately will depend on the ability of nations with shared interests forming coalitions that influence the development of international rules and regulations, Dewar said, calling for “a global approach to cybersecurity and common rules of operation.”

U.S. Military Solidifies Standards for Sea Operations

February 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

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.

Multiple Elements Come Together to Aid Philippines Typhoon Response

February 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

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. 

Scalable Communications Key to Marine Typhoon Response

December 20, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.

Silver Lining Hard to See in Budget Chaos

January 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Historical trends during military drawdowns indicate that current Defense Department budget cuts could last for more than a decade. This situation could endanger major acquisition programs and negatively impact the ability of the United States both to pivot forces to the Asia-Pacific region and to maintain a presence in the Middle East, experts say. But the department may have a short window of opportunity to reconcile strategy with lower budgets.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Seeks Partnership With Industry

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Partnering with industry is not a new concept for the military. However, with funding limits plunging, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet has extended an invitation to industry to come up with ways of giving the Navy what it needs in economic ways.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Looks to Operate at a Disadvantage

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

For years, the U.S. Navy built its force around the concept of network-centric operations. Now that it has some of the most advanced information technology capabilities in the military realm, the U.S. Pacific Fleet must re-learn how to operate without them in a disconnected, intermittent, low-bandwidth (DIL) environment.

Navy Communicators Look to Communities of Interest

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

With the new Joint Information Environment looming as the basis for networking across the force, planners must consider how to add coalition allies and nontraditional partners. Establishing communities of interest may be the answer.

Defense Must Focus on Where Not to Spend Money

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Instead of deciding where to spend its money, the Pentagon now must decide where not to spend its increasingly scarce cash resources. This entails risk assessment that focuses on how not to hurt the warfighter.

Cyberspace-Enabled Coalitions May Save Cyberspace

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Cyber has provided the means for rapidly assembling and operating military coalitions in the post-Cold-War era. Now, the very nature of the domain may require coalitions to save it from a growing menu of threats. These threats can range from annoying hackers to organized crime to malicious nation-states and even geopolitical movements to restrict the flow of ideas. While the panoply of perils is diverse, the actions to defend against them may have to spring from the well of government and organizational cooperation.

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