Military communications systems around the world are being asked to do more with less, but U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region face an even more complex challenge. Lacking a regionwide multinational alliance such as NATO, the U.S. Pacific Command is working to improve interoperability in bilateral arrangements with allies and partner nations amid an increased threat to the very networks forces rely on during crises.
To monitor the possible effects of radiation on Americans who were in Japan during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the U.S. Army Public Health Command has launched the Operation Tomodachi Registry website. The site provides location-based radiation dose estimates for the approximately 70,000 department-affiliated adults and children who were in one of 13 mainland Japan locations at the time of the disaster, which included the release of radiation into the environment. It will serve as a public clearinghouse for information on the U.S. Defense Department's response to the crisis in which U.S.
Maintaining stability in one of the most diverse, dynamic regions of the world will take a concerted effort among all particants holding a positive stake in the future. To achieve that goal, nations and organizations must band together to iron out the rough spots even when some players remain reticent about cooperation. In this month's issue of SIGNAL Magazine, Robert K. Ackerman strikes a chord with his interview featuring the commander of Pacific Command (PACOM), Adm. Robert F.
Bridging the waters surrounding the most remote island chain on the planet-that is the mission of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). It uses training exercises with neighboring countries to improve interoperability and promote peace.
In this month's issue of SIGNAL Magazine, News Editor Rita Boland explores the command's effort to rehearse real-world emergencies and establish relationships with its allies in her article, "Practice Makes Perfect."
"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. Plunging into ground combat in Asia was considered “one of the classic blunders,” as a character describes it, so obvious that even children get the joke. Thus thought the gifted screenwriter William Goldman, who once had typed reports in the Pentagon as a U.S. Army corporal and went on to pen scripts for classic movies such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and A Bridge Too Far. Yet what may have seemed obvious to Goldman and throngs of moviegoers apparently did not register above the corporal level in the U.S. high command.
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.
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.
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. Accordingly, the new position would need a four-star mission command center.
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 U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab this week wrapped up an Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) in the jungles of Hawaii, which tested a total of 16 systems including unmanned ground vehicles. The experiment was part of the July 9 -14 Rim of the Pacific exercise and could help determine how future Marine forces will fight and which technologies they will use.
The experiment included Marines aboard Navy ships as well as three company landing teams, a relatively new organization construct for the service. The company landing teams are altered rifle companies and represent a different approach to the Battalion Landing Team.
This is the second article in a two-part series. For part one, click here.
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. Islands that can be inhabited have 12 miles of territorial sea and a 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Atolls have territorial sea but no EEZ, and submerged reefs have neither claim rights, even if above-water structures are built on them.
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.
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 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. Commercial technologies, such as local cell systems that survived the storm, proved invaluable for onsite communications. And, U.S.
A set of rapid entry communications systems formed the core of networking assets for U.S. military forces providing humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations in the Philippines in the wake of the devastating November typhoon. These systems provided scalable links that allowed U.S. forces to interoperate with the Philippine government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in sharing unclassified information.
The network-centric U.S. Navy could find itself without its core information assets during a conflict in the vast Asia-Pacific region. So, the U.S. Pacific Fleet is embarking on an effort to learn how to function without some of its most important technology capabilities.
Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, outlined that scenario on the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Adm. Harris said the fleet is planning for operation in a disconnected, intermittent, low-bandwidth environment, or DIL.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet is feeling the pain of budget cuts, and its commander is looking toward industry to provide it with necessary capabilities under tight budgetary conditions. Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, described the approaches he wants industry to take along with the fleet’s requirements on the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“We’re looking to our partners in industry to develop the new technologies and capabilities we need,” Adm. Harris declared. “And, we have do it in a fiscally constrained environment.”
Defense spending must shift its outlook away from what it needs and toward where it can afford not to spend money, according to a Navy information technology executive. Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer, told the breakfast audience at the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the department must become more outcome focused and determine the risk of not doing something.
“The number one question in the Pentagon today is, ‘What am I not going to spend money on?’” Halvorsen stated.
The U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Information Enterprise (JIE) promises to be the core of force networking, and it will be at the heart of coalition interoperability. An approach to networking allies and nontraditional partners in the JIE may loom in social media.
Establishing communities of interest within the JIE was broached by Randy Cieslak, chief information officer, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Cieslak cited the concept during a panel discussion he was moderating on the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.