Army Eyes Equipment Needs For Asia-Pacific

Army Eyes Equipment Needs For Asia-Pacific

Emelie Rutherford

The Army will rely heavily on equipment that aids it with air and missile defense and cybersecurity as the U.S. military enhances its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, service officials said yesterday.

Army acquisition chief Heidi Shyu said she is looking to enhance such capabilities and others that give soldiers access to a more-contested environment, as her office shifts from equipping the service for a decade of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to preparing soldiers for another part of the world.

The new defense strategic guidance, which President Barack Obama released in January, calls for strengthening the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region and shrinking the size of conventional ground forces as troops drawdown from Afghanistan (Defense Daily, Jan. 6).

While much emphasis is being paid in Washington to the need for Navy ships because of the shift to the Asia-Pacific, Pentagon officials said yesterday the Army will not be sidelined by the new strategy.

“The Army will play a key part in the U.S. government’s broad political and military rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during a speech at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington.

In the Asia-Pacific the Army faces threats beyond those that frustrated it in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it grappled with improvised explosive devices, rockets, and mortars, Shyu told reporters yesterday.

“We’ll go beyond that,” she said during a briefing at the AUSA conference. “The things we have to focus more on (include the) air and missile defense area to protect ourselves. The areas of cyber, cyber defense, we definitely have to focus on.”

Shyu, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, further cited the need to determine which types of electronic-jamming technologies adversaries might use in the Asia-Pacific.

Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, a Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) official, said he is looking at a “rebalance” of the Army because of the enhanced Asia-Pacific emphasis.

He said it will be key for U.S. soldiers to work with partners in the region, where they will be countering adversaries trying to deny them access.

“The best thing to do is to be able to turn to you partner and say, ‘Can I borrow your instruments because we’re friends?’” said Walker, deputy commanding general for “futures” and director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center at TRADOC.

“So there’s training and redevelopment implications there,” he said, sitting alongside Shyu at the briefing.

Seven of the world’s 10 largest armies are in the Pacific, and 23 of the 27 chiefs of defense are army leaders, Walker said.

“So we have a definite role to support the combatant commanders,” Walker said. He noted ways the Army supports the U.S. Navy and Air Force in the region–in areas such as air and missile defense, network operation, and air and sea lift.

The Army plans to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific as the drawdown from Afghanistan, now slated to end in 2014, proceeds.

Carter touted the work the Army has done partnering and exercising with forces from allied nations in the region, including Australia.