Indo-Pacific

March 4, 2021
By George I. Seffers
China is often first in the information operations competition, keeping the United States and its allies and partners in the Asia Pacific on defense. Credit: andriano.cz/Shutterstock

With its rapid-fire information operations campaign, China effectively outguns the United States and its partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific region, according to three military officers from the United States and Australia.

March 3, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The newly commissioned National Security Cutter Midgett conducts sea trials on February 25. The U.S. Coast Guard needs to be more nimble in the Pacific region. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries

The seas of the Indo-Pacific region are an increasingly complex maritime environment. To combat an increase in nefarious activity, protect U.S. economic security and thwart brazen adversaries, the U.S. Coast Guard is adding resources to its operations there, says Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, USCG, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Defense Force West and commander, Pacific Area, presented a keynote address Thursday at AFCEA’s TechNet Indo-Pacific conference.

March 2, 2021
By George I. Seffers
Paratroopers secure their location in preparation for the extraction of senior Afghan and coalition military leaders following a key leader engagement in southeastern Afghanistan, December 29, 2019. Complex policies for connecting networks and sharing data remains a significant barrier for working with allies and coalition partners, military officials say. Credit: Army Master Sgt. Alejandro Licea

With a new Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) strategy document wending its way through the Pentagon, multiple high-ranking officers indicate that complex networks and related policies related remain the top impediment to working with allies and partner nations.

The strategy is being spearheaded by Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, the director of command, control, communications, computers/cyber, and the chief information officer for the Joint Staff, J-6. According to Brig. Gen. Robert Parker, USA, J-6 deputy director for the Joint Staff, the document has been sent to the chief of staff and vice chief of staff for approval and could land on the desk of the secretary of defense in the coming days or weeks.

February 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
A sailor keeps watch aboard the USS John S. McCain as the guided missile destroyer asserts navigational rights and freedoms under international law in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) routinely conducts freedom of navigation operations as part of its mission to ensure free and secure passage in the vast region.  7th Fleet

The push toward multidomain operations is geared toward meeting the multifaceted threat U.S. forces face worldwide, but its effects already are being felt in the Indo-Pacific region. Three nation-state adversaries, each with its own flavor of threat, are influencing U.S. efforts in that vast region to maintain peace and security.

February 1, 2021
By George I. Seffers
The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully tests a solid-state laser weapon system demonstrator. Directed energy weapons, along with hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and other advanced systems, are on the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s priority list.    U.S. Navy photo

The potential proliferation of hypersonic weapons highlights the need to advance a wide range of other technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, laser weapons and fully networked command, control and communications systems, says George Kailiwai III, director, requirements and resources (J-8) for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

February 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
An eight-ship joint coalition formation flies over Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, during exercise Cope North 2020 in February 2020. Guam is proving to be a strategic hub for the United States’ efforts in the Indo-Pacific region, the military’s priority theater.  U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.

Always strategic, the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean in Micronesia is playing a growing role in the contested, troublesome, near-peer competition environment. The Defense Department is investing more into the military facilities of this U.S. territory, including adding networking and bandwidth solutions; joint all-domain command and control; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions as well as additional U.S. forces. The measures will add key communications and advanced capabilities to the island as well as increase the military’s power projection abilities.

February 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The director of operations of the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron speaks to the aircrew of a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer during a Veterans Day flyover at Asan Invasion Beach on Guam, November 11, 2020. Communications capabilites, whether they are for a ceremonial flyover or for vital military operations are necessary to Guam and the vast and remote Indo-Pacific region, and are something that the Defense Information Systems Agency is investing in heavilly.  U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka

Given the remoteness of the Indo-Pacific region and the growing role of Guam in the theater, the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, has been heavily investing in information technology and communications capabilities for the U.S. territory.   

February 1, 2021
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The Indo-Pacific region continues to increase in importance and activity. A broad range of actions must be taken to preserve democracy and freedom in this most critical region. The threat to the democratic ideals respected around the world is not abstract but real, and it comes from multiple sources. Stopping the march against human rights violations, promotion of destructive economic, geopolitical activity and threatening military actions requires proactive, not reactive, measures. These measures must be thoughtfully and rapidly implemented.

November 20, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Two B-1B Lancer aircraft prepare to land during a Bomber Task Force deployment at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in October. The move to that type of bomber mission has proven to be successful so far, says Pacific Air Forces leader Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF.

The U.S. Air Force’s shift away from continuously present bomber squadrons in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility has actually resulted in more bomber flights, reports Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF. In April, the service ended Continuous Bomber Presence missions in the Indo-Pacific Theater, which it had conducted with squadrons deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, since March of 2004.

November 10, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Two scores of airmen and four B-1B Lancers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, arrive at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in May to conduct missions in the Indo-Pacific theater, supporting the Pacific Air Forces’ training with allies and partners and performing strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the region. Credit: PACAF Public Affairs/Tech. Sgt. David Scott-Gaughan

The new concept of employing computerized modeling and virtualization to the acquisition cycle may provide advanced aircraft more quickly to the U.S. Air Force, said Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF, commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF); Air Component commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The concept can also be applied to communications, sensors and network systems.

The new PACAF commander spoke at a recent Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual event.

November 6, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Information Systems Agency provides a wide array of communications support for warfighters around the globe, including modernized electromagnetic spectrum operations tools and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. Credit: U.S. Defense Department Photo/Gunnery Sgt. Ezekiel Kitandwe

Despite the global pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has never stopped providing warfighters with critical connections needed to conduct multidomain warfare and never let up on the daily battles in cyberspace, says Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the agency’s director and the commander of Joint Forces Headquarters for the Department of Defense Information Systems Network.

Adm. Norton made the comments during an AFCEA TechNet Cyber webinar on November 5. The webinar is part of a series of webinars leading up to the TechNet Cyber conference scheduled for December 1-3.

November 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team use satellite communication systems at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, in March. Next summer, the Army intends to take its premier command, control, communications, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance experiment to the Indo-Pacific theater. It will mark the service’s first full-sized technology development experiment in a combat theater. Credit: U.S. Army/Pfc. Rosio Najera

When the U.S. Army conducts its Multi-Domain Operations Live experiment in the Indo-Pacific region next year, it will mark the first time the service has undertaken a full-scale technology development experiment in a combat theater. The goal is to assess technologies under the same conditions they will face in times of war, rather than in a stateside setting.

July 8, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ken Wilsbach performs preflight procedures in his F-22 Raptor before his final flight as commander of the Alaskan Command, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Region and Eleventh Air Force, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in August 2018. Gen. Wilsbach takes the helm as commander of the Pacific Air Forces, succeeding Gen. Charles Brown, who is moving to be the next chief of the Air Force. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña

After two years as the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, or PACAF, Gen. Charles Brown Jr., USAF, moves on from guiding airmen and operations in the complicated region. During a time of growing near-peer competition from China, Gen. Brown leaves advice for the new commander of PACAF, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF. Gen. Wilsbach, who also will receive his fourth star, takes the helm at PACAF today.

Previously, Gen. Wilsbach was the commander of the 7th Air Force and the deputy commander of U.S. Forces in Korea.

When asked what advice he would give to the new PACAF commander, Gen. Brown, speaking virtually to AFCEA International’s Hawaii monthly chapter meeting last week, suggested that, “relationships really matter.”

July 2, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Speaking to the AFCEA Hawaii Chapter on June 30 during a virtual luncheon, Gen. Charles Brown, USAF, who is the outgoing commander, Pacific Air Forces; air component commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, advises the industry to help quickly field capabilities to the warfighter, rather than delivering a solution "late to need."

The vast Indo-Pacific region is not well understood. And given the rising threat from China, the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) operating in that area of responsibility has focused on working closely with U.S. allies and partners to improve interoperability through exercises, experimentation and innovation. The other key priority is increased communication and information sharing, advised Gen. Charles Q. Brown, USAF.

March 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists at WEST 2020 examine how to stand up to China's South China Sea aggression. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Carefully crafted actions on the part of nations respecting international law may be the solution for countering China’s maritime territory grab in the South China Sea. These actions could prevent the Middle Kingdom from bullying its way into areas it claims unilaterally, or they might be the key to preventing the region from erupting into armed conflict.

These issues were the focus of discussion in a Tuesday panel at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. A collection of warfighters and academics weighed the consequences of potential actions as well as inaction.

November 20, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, USCG, commander, 14th Coast Guard District, describes the service's expanding mission in the Indo-Pacific region. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

The U.S. Coast Guard has increased its activities across the Pacific theater, including a national security cutter deployed under the control of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. Concurrent with these efforts are increased efforts in cyberspace, with a special focus on personnel.

These points were emphasized by Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, USCG, commander, 14th Coast Guard District, at the keynote breakfast opening day 2 of TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019 being held November 19-21 in Honolulu. Adm. Lunday described an expanding mission that includes serving the maritime security needs of small Pacific nations.

November 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft join ships of the USS Ronald Reagan in a multiservice exercise in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) seeks expanded capabilities to counter new and growing threats across a region that comprises more than half the Earth’s surface.  MC2 Kenneth Abbate

More crisis points are challenging U.S. goals in the Indo-Pacific region, and the combined command in charge of that vast theater is gathering resources and partners to maintain an effective military and diplomatic presence against rivals and other threats to peace and security. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) is building new coalitions, acquiring innovative technologies and adding greater capabilities while continuing to carry out its mission.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
An HH-60G Pave Hawk from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, flies during a recent recovery training. Any command and control solutions have to reach airmen across the Indo-Pacific region, leaders say.  Pacific Air Forces.

Operating across the great distances of the Indo-Pacific region requires robust communication solutions. To meet the technological demands of airmen in the region, the U.S. Air Force, and in particular the Pacific Air Forces, are considering resilient network architecture, advanced software, battlespace command and control center solutions, new high frequency capabilities, low-earth-orbit platforms and decision-making tools, among other innovative solutions.

November 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Marines with the Marine Rotational Force in Australia conduct a bilateral exercise with the Australian Defence Force. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) is expanding its reach for intelligence information that can be applied across the spectrum of military and civilian uses.  U.S. Marine Corps

Making more intelligence available to a wider range of customers, including the general public, is a major goal of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s intelligence directorate. This represents a bit of a departure from the traditional role of limiting intelligence information to only decision makers and warfighters, and it acknowledges the strategic importance of information in the public realm.

October 23, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Navy cryptologic technicians stand watch in the combat information center of the USS Milius in the East China Sea. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) intelligence experts are addressing the long-expected emergence of China as a regional adversary with global intentions. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Taylor DiMartino, USN)

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) harbors no illusions about China’s capabilities and intentions, its officials say. Experts who long have followed the Middle Kingdom’s official publications and statements have understood the nation’s aggressive nature and threat to peace and security, according to the director of intelligence (J-2) for INDOPACOM. These issues are now front and center for INDOPACOM as China expands its military and political reach to disrupt the peace and security of the entire Indo-Pacific region.

July 31, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The United States is keeping a close eye on adversaries in the Indo-Pacific Region, says Gen. Charles Brown, USAF, commander, Pacific Air Forces, speaking at yesterday’s Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Virginia.

The U.S. Air Force’s role in the Indo-Pacific region of the world is complex given the current atmosphere and threat environment. The region is host to 44 percent of the world’s trade and 60 percent of the world’s population. And for the United States, four of the five major challenges and threats identified by the National Defense Strategy and the National Security Strategy are in the Indo-Pacific region, including revisionist powers China and Russia, said the commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Charles Brown. The four-star general, whose area of responsibility is the Indo-Pacific, is also air component commander for the U.S.