4-star: US Army Pacific must be ready for fight of the future

Amid rising tensions in the Pacific theater, the top Army commander in the region wants soldiers to be ready for the future fight, not ones from the past.

“Nobody wants war, that’s for sure. Nobody prays for peace harder than a soldier,” Gen. Robert Brown, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, told Army Times. “But we have to be ready.”

Brown said preparing for the future fight focuses on multi-domain battle and joint integration.

“We want to use the new things we’ve learned,” he said. “And so that’s one of the challenges — as we’re developing ways that will work better in the future and validating them in exercises … then you have to incorporate that.”

The U.S. military is already successful at joint fighting, but Brown says it needs to get even better.

“We’ve got to move from a joint interdependence where we depend on each other to a true joint integration,” he said.

This includes leveraging all of the domains — air, land, sea, cyber and space — and making sure information can be shared among the services.

“So maybe you can’t do it on land alone, but if you maneuver in cyber, that opens up an opening in the air that then opens up an opening on the ground, and you end up presenting multiple dilemmas to those that would do you harm,” he said. “[It gives] yourself multiple options, which is what we want.”

Brown said the Army will send a multi-domain task force to Pacific Pathways during 2019.

The exercise, which made its debut in 2014, employs a unit through a “training pathway.” The unit spends three to four months in a series of exercises with foreign militaries.

The task force consists of about 1,000 troops who will go to Japan or Australia, for example, during the exercise.

“They’ll be able to have capabilities we’ve never had before, such as extensive cyber capability and space capability,” Brown said. “They’ll be integrated better than they’ve ever been before with and sea, all from what used to be a traditional land force only.”

The task force will experiment with such capabilities as air and missile defense, electronic warfare and long-range fires, among others.

The Army will take lessons and feedback from the task force to see how to better integrate those capabilities into future training scenarios and real-world missions.


USARPAC launched a program at the end of August to immerse junior leaders in the Pacific region.

“All the forces in the Pacific are aligned to the Pacific region. They get to know it really well,” Brown said. “But … for leaders, there was no way to train for that region. A lot of them would read up on it on their own, and there’d be training programs here and there.”

The Regional Leader Development Program, however, gives service members a familiarization with the region.

The seven-week course broadens and develops the junior leaders, Brown said.

“So they go to a course at the Asia Pacific Security Center, for example, and they learn about the region from experts, professors,” he said.

Then the students immerse themselves in the region for several weeks.

“We take them to multiple countries,” he said. “And at the end, what you have are these junior leaders, captains and mid-level [non-commissioned officers] who become experts in the region.”

The service members go back to their units scattered throughout the Pacific with a greater knowledge, whether they’re involved with the Korean Peninsula or a disaster response somewhere, he said.

“You now have an expert,” he said. “So it’s an investment.”

It’s starting as a pilot program in the Pacific, but Brown said the goal is to do this for other Army regions. The pilot course has 40 students from all branches of the military with the majority from the Army, Brown said.

The program has partnered with outside universities, as well, so those who participate can use their tuition assistance to complete 15 more credit hours to complete a master’s in international relations, he said.

The next iteration of the program will kick off in May.

“We think leader development is so important in the future because to do that multi-domain battle, you have to have empowered people who are really developed,” Brown said. “Now things have changed so much just in the world, the velocity of human interaction, the complexity of things in the world, that you have to have leaders that thrive in ambiguity and chaos, not comfortable, but that thrive.”

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