Even as the United States continues to lead a coalition of countries in the battle against terrorism in Southwest Asia, another effort quietly continues to root out evildoers in the southeast portion of the continent. But unlike their counterparts in the deserts and mountains, the troops fighting in the jungles have a secondary position to their country hosts. Also present is a strong focus on non-war activities such as medical care and capacity building that demonstrates to citizens the dedication of both their government and that of the United States to improve their lives. The result of all this work has been a decrease in terrorist activities as well as enhanced quality of life for people in the region.
Complexity is at the core of nearly every mission for the U.S. Marines serving in the Asia-Pacific region. Even something as simple as the international dateline must be taken into account when the U.S. Marine Corps plans operations within its area of responsibility. From the communications perspective, the diversity of countries it interacts with poses significant challenges to its network operators and planners.
They may not exactly be the neighborhood watch, but countries in, around and concerned with the Asia-Pacific region have banded together to protect the area’s interests. A program headquartered at U.S. Pacific Command brings operational-level planners together several times a year to develop standards and conduct exercises to promote interoperability and streamline missions in the area. Though the program is voluntary and has no authority to mandate any actions, the work and relationships have made a significant difference during crises in various nations.
The U.S. Army is overhauling its communications in Korea to update decades-old infra-structure. Three major projects will offer commanders better information for their decision-making processes and put in place an architecture that enables necessary capabilities for the next 10 to 15 years. Some phases of the work are complete, and others will continue to 2012.
Communications and data interoperability with regional nations are essential for U.S. forces in Southeast Asia. The military command responsible for this region must manage and coordinate operations across approximately half of the planet’s surface, an area encompassing 39 nations with 60 percent of the world’s population, vital international trade routes and several potential flashpoints. To facilitate its mission across this vast region, this command spearheads a variety of efforts designed to foster interoperability with the region’s armed forces.
One look at a globe could define the vastness of the Asia-Pacific region, but the U.S. Army command responsible for it can apply that same description to the challenges it faces. These range from cultural issues among dozens of diverse countries to technological issues of network centricity and interoperability.
How better to meet the needs of an ideal air defense ship than to put the land-based S-300 system that has protected Peking and Moscow on a large guided missile destroyer? China is sending the two newest, largest 6,000-ton 051C guided missile destroyers (DDGs)—hulls 115 and 116—to be flagships for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) North Fleet. The 051C, which began construction prior to the later 052A and 052B ships, will be a new fleet command ship with air defense and coordination capabilities.
The largest field command in the U.S. Marine Corps is updating equipment to enhance command and control operations. The upgrades include installing cutting-edge technology that will improve control of troops and communications among the various command levels, as well as integrating better intelligence capabilities and serving as a convergence point during critical missions.
Improving effective intelligence links with dozens of disparate nations may be the key to prevailing on the Asia-Pacific front in the Global War on Terrorism. A changing enemy, diverse allies and emerging technologies are bringing about a sea change in intelligence operations throughout the Pacific theater.
The U.S. Pacific Command is reaching out to former enemies and even potential adversaries to help maintain security in the vast Asia-Pacific region. Some of these efforts are aimed at prevailing in the Global War on Terrorism, while others simply are part of a long-term effort to keep the dozens of nations that make up the region from going to war with one another.