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.
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 Online Show Daily: Day 2
Quote of the Day:
“You may have to make the job fun. What motivated me to get where I am today is not necessarily what will motivate the leaders of tomorrow.”—Cindy Moran, director, network services, Defense Information Systems Agency
An evolving mission network connecting U.S. and Australian forces is being expanded to include other trusted allies with an eye toward adding coalition partner nations. The network is built around a risk-managed approach for sensitive information sharing.
Known as Pegasus, the network expands on the two nations’ Improved Connectivity Initiative (ICI). Maj. Gen. Mike J. Milford, Australia Military, chief technology officer, Chief Information Officer Group of the Australian Department of Defence, outlined details of the network to the Wednesday breakfast audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Australia has implemented a cybersecurity policy that brings together government and industry to secure the domain nationally. The country recently elevated cybersecurity as a major priority for national security, and in 2009, it established a Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC).
The recent humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) effort in the wake of the Philippine typhoon demonstrated new capabilities and vulnerabilities for the broad networking necessary for successful operations. Information was shared to a degree greater than at previous emergencies, but this opened the door to potential information assurance problems.
The revolutionary nature of cyberspace pales in comparison to the dynamic differences that characterize its work force. Not only do younger workers have different professional goals than their progenitors, but also same-generation technology-savvy workers may have varying outlooks on how to innovate and exploit new capabilities.
A Wednesday panel at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, wrestled with the challenges facing leaders in cyber fields. Senior Master Sgt. Torry Hickson, USAF, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Pacific, stated that an organization dealing with cyber needs a mix of young and old people. This will combine leadership built of wisdom with an innovative spirit with technology knowledge.
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 1
Quote of the Day:
"If you allow the United States to operate out of sanctuary, we will beat the crap out of you." - Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, USAF, vice commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, addressing potential adversaries.
The recent U.S. strategic pivot toward the Pacific has placed that region at the forefront of change in the military. Where in the recent past activities in the area of responsibility (AOR) for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) defined military needs, now the requirements for the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) are emerging as the leading edge of the defense technology sword.
The United States must examine new means of deterrence that address the multitude of ways an adversary would seek a military advantage, said the vice commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces. Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, USAF, told the opening luncheon audience in TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the old idea of deterrence—threatening an enemy with total destruction—does not apply to current challenges, especially with cyber issues.
The U.S. Pacific Air Forces will benefit greatly from combining its A-3 and A-6, said its director of communications and chief information officer. Col. Michael Finn II, USAF, told the audience at the opening panel discussion at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the Pacific Air Forces would have “a lot of synergy combining the -3 with the -6.”
The concept of cyber readiness has a different perspective from the operations side and the cyber side. This consolidation helps provide warfighting integration across the entire network, Col. Finn said.
Years of exercises between the Philippine and U.S. militaries helped both countries work together in the massive rescue effort after the Asian nation was devastated recently by a typhoon. The U.S. effort, designated Operation Damayan, featured effective coordination amid a sterling execution by the Philippine military, according to U.S. military officers.
At TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, a panel featuring the U.S. Pacific Command’s -6s discussed how those rescue efforts came together. Col. James Dillon, USMC, the assistant chief of staff for G-6, Marine Forces Pacific, noted that when the disaster struck, personal relationships already existed, and both sides could leverage that.
An increasing number of missions combined with more diverse settings offer a major challenge to establishing needed communications throughout the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. forces cannot count on having necessary communications links in place with they respond to a new mission, noted a panel of military officers.
U.S. Pacific Command military leaders agree that any future operation will be conducted amid a coalition, and partner countries must be networked. However, that networking opens the possibility for greatly increased network vulnerabilities as less-secure nations provide weak links for network security.
This vital issue was discussed by a panel featuring the U.S. Pacific Command’s -6s at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Col. Michael Finn II, USAF, director of communications and chief information officer, headquarters, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, noted, “all of our partners are hungry for this [cyber] domain.” Japan and South Korea in particular are primary information sharing partners.
The United States must weigh its command and control (C2) capabilities before it embarks on a military plan instead of the other way around, according to the vice commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces. Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, USAF, told the opening luncheon audience in TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that vulnerabilities have increased the importance of C2 in planning and execution.
“Oldthink in the U.S. military—which is how we do things today—is, you figure out your military plan, and then you sprinkle your command and control on it,” the general offered. “Instead, you have to understand your limitations in C2 in step one—not what we do today.”
North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear capabilities “keep us awake at night,” according to the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, warned that the communist government’s recent developments pose a much greater threat to peace and security than traditionally offered.
U.S. forces may be over relying on cyber to meet challenges in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when potential adversaries view it as a key to disrupting U.S. operations, according to the top leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, deputy commander of PACOM, offered that U.S. forces must expect to operate without at least some of their cyber assets in a time of conflict.
Any future U.S. military network architecture must accommodate allies, or it will not work for the vast Asia-Pacific region. Operations from humanitarian aid to military conflict will involve partners, and their effective participation will depend on access to U.S. networks.
That point was driven home by the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, told the audience at the opening breakfast at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, “We cannot do anything with our networks without the coalition built into our processes.”
The U.S. Pacific Command needs effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to address its increasing mission activities, according to the command’s deputy commander. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, was blunt in his assessment to the audience at the opening breakfast at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“We need ISR,” the general declared. “We have a paucity of ISR in this theater.”
He noted that when the command lacks the needed ISR, it must use general purpose forces to collect data. “We have DDGs [guided missile destroyers] steaming around serving that role,” he related.
A new destroyer being deployed by China offers improvements in technology that rival those of the newest destroyers being built for the U.S. Navy. Its advances include phased array radars and improved missiles and launch systems. With room to grow, this ship seems destined to play a significant role in naval operations.
Known as the 052D, the destroyer represents the culmination of technology development among People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) destroyers. It likely will be prominent in future PLAN carrier group operations.
It has been less than two years since the president and the secretary of defense released the latest strategic defense guidance, titled, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” A key tenet of this guidance was a strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. This guidance acknowledged the ongoing threat in the Middle East and South Asia, but it also postulated that the threat capability had been reduced there. It also made the case that, “U.S. economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments in the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia, creating a mix of evolving challenges and opportunities”—hence the rebalance.
The U.S. Pacific Command intelligence community is fostering an increased dialogue between China and other nations with interests in the Pacific Rim. The expanded effort is designed to build trust, avoid misunderstandings and improve cooperation in areas where China’s national interests converge with the national interests of the United States and others.
Legacy communications are underpinning new capabilities as the U.S. Army Pacific works to upgrade its systems before obsolescence defeats innovation. The new technologies and systems that will define U.S. military networking are beginning to reach across the Defense Department’s largest theater of operations. Yet, budgetary constraints are hindering implementation of new capabilities, and the existing systems that form the foundation of theater networking badly need upgrades before they begin to give out.
The signal brigade in charge of U.S. Army communications in the Republic of Korea is incorporating new technologies and capabilities with one eye on ensuring success and the other eye on the hostile neighbor to the north. System improvements such as the advanced Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, voice over Internet protocol and a Korean theater version of the Joint Information Environment are designed to give allied forces a significant edge should war break out.
Cooperation and conflict define the new strategy guiding U.S. Pacific Air Forces as the air element of the U.S. Pacific Command adjusts to the strategic pivot to that vast region. The former aspect includes efforts with many regional allies as well as closer activities with the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, the latter element entails power projection to be able to respond to crises whenever they emerge, including those over water.
China’s activities in space have caught the attention of U.S. and other countries’ officials, altering how personnel must consider the domain. The importance of the area outside of Earth to military operations makes the location critical for any nation looking to put itself into a terrestrial position of power. During 2012, China conducted 18 space launches and upgraded various constellations for purposes such as communications and navigation. China’s recent expansion into the realm presents new concerns for civilian programs and defense assets there.
The working group that helped solve the coalition interoperability puzzle in Afghanistan is working across the U.S. Defense Department and with other nations to ensure that the lessons learned will be applied to future operations around the globe. Experience in creating the Afghan Mission Network may benefit warfighters worldwide, such as those in the Asia Pacific, and may even be applied to other missions, including homeland security and humanitarian assistance.
Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2
The Joint Information Environment (JIE) took center stage during the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The conference devoted one full panel to the joint environment, but presenters throughout the day stressed the JIE’s importance to the future of the U.S. military and coalition partners, discussed some of the challenges to achieving the vision and vowed that the department will make it happen despite any remaining obstacles.
Cyberwarfare is a primary concern for the U.S. Marine Corps as it continues its rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. With the growing involvement of cyber in every operation along with specific concerns of virtual attacks from large nations in the region, emphasis on the new domain is becoming increasingly important.
Declining defense funds and the rise of China may hinder strategic rebalancing efforts.
Whatever the threat; wherever the conflict; whatever the mission; the future U.S. military largely will be defined by forced budget constraints. The ongoing fiscal crisis, haunted by the twin specters of sequestration and continuing resolution, will have a greater say in shaping the future force than either adversaries or advances in weapon technologies.
West 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2
Quote of the Day: “How can you help me make the least-dumb decisions quicker?”—Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer (CIO) for the Department of the Navy, requesting cyber security solutions from industry
The shift of U.S. power to the Asia-Pacific will not be successful without an infusion of new technology and a dedicated effort to defeat a wide range of adversaries. The new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region poses a new set of challenges, mandating solutions that run the gamut from technological capabilities to cultural outreach and diplomacy.
On the military side, direct challenges range from dealing with cyberspace attacks to providing missile defense in a large-scale conflict. On the geopolitical side, centuries of conflict and confrontation among neighbors must be overcome if a region-wide security environment enabling economic growth is to be implemented.