WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is stepping up its relationship-building efforts in the Pacific region in a bid to counter China’s geopolitical influence.
The U.S. Army has taken part in major exercises in the region like Operation Pathways — and wants to increase its participation, according to Gen. Charles Flynn, the Army’s commander in the Pacific.
“We don’t have a NATO here,” like in Europe, Flynn told Defense News in a recent interview. “We’re not going to have a NATO out here.”
“That means the challenge is much, much more difficult for us because we’ve got to bring together this network of allies and partners and we do that largely through our exercising in the region like Pathways,” he added.
The training is meant to both improve interoperability and bolster joint readiness, Flynn said.
This year, the Army increased its forward presence during Super Garuda Shield — part of Operation Pathways — which brought together 14 nations on Sumatra, Java and Borneo, the main islands in Indonesia.
“It’s really important that that’s a visible sign of the network of allies and partners coming together,” Flynn said.
The Army also brought its first mobile Combat Training Center rotation to Indonesia for Garuda Shield and will do so again in 2023, he said. The service will send the rotation to Australia for Talisman Sabre, a biennial exercise between Australia and the United Sates.
The Army has a training center in Europe and two in the U.S., but no permanent one in the Pacific. Flynn said a mobile version is “up and running,” giving soldiers the opportunity to train in operationally relevant environments.
At the same time, the service is standing up a third Multidomain Task Force unit, designed to operate across all domains, including cyber and space, and equipped with the Army’s growing capabilities, including in long-range precision fires. This will be the second MDTF in the Pacific region.
The first MDTF there helped inform the Army’s multidomain operations doctrine, which the Army is releasing at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual exhibition.
Many allies and partners in the region — including Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand — are designing concepts of operation similar to the U.S. Army’s MDO doctrine, Flynn said.
“In a lot of ways the Multidomain Task Force is kind of an example to others in the region about a new organizational design for the challenging environment that we have here in the Pacific,” he said.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.