The commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific on Tuesday argued for the importance of his service and command in the Indo-Pacific theater.
Referring to China, Gen. Charles Flynn called the Indo-Pacific the most consequential region where the U.S. is aligned against the most consequential adversary with the most consequential stakes. He also said China is following an “incremental and insidious path because of the actions and behaviors that they continue to pursue and some of the destabilizing activities that they’re involved with in the region.”
Flynn admitted that the region generally gets more attention for the sea and air domains,
“but I don’t want to miss the fact that more than half the globe’s population lives in that region…and when I say that, those people live on the land.”
Flynn argued the competition with China is active every day and “we try to maintain a level of activity in the region so we can be a counterweight to some of the destabilizing activities that do occur out there.”
Given that officials are defining directive for integrated deterrence at the senior national strategic, Flynn thinks about how to translate that idea into something usable for his command. He sees it as requiring U.S. Army Pacific to combine capabilities, posture, signaling and will to place forces forward, create a persistent Army presence, introducing forces ready to work with allies and partners and creating stable environments.
Flynn said that Army and land power generally “does provide decisive campaign-quality joint integrated deterrence by being forward,” he continued.
He underscored the importance of campaign-quality contributions because “the theater Army is composed of a wide range of what I call foundational capabilities that only the Army provides the joint force commander: theater engineering, theater signal, theater logistics, theater integrated air and missile defense all the way down to civil affairs, all the way down to civil contracting.”
These kinds of enabling or foundational capabilities are “actually central to what the theater Army provides the joint force commander because we can scale, very quickly, with command and control” as well as adding in elements of the National Guard and Army Reserve forces.
Flynn said this allows the Army to bring these capabilities to bear “early in any form of competitive activity or crisis” as a counterweight to destabilizing activities.
Flynn emphasized the importance of continuing to develop these capabilities and work with armies in the region.
“We need to continue to work with the joint force across the globe but mostly in my AOR out in the Indo-Pacific.”
Flynn also outlined what he sees as the four main roles the U.S. Army Pacific provides, divided into enduring and functional or as required.
In an enduring position, it acts as the Army service component command to man, train, equip and organize service forces assigned or allocated in the region. The Army forces in the Indo-Pacific comprise about 20 to 25 percent of the total Army forces.
The second enduring role also includes setting up the theater; conducting joint reception, staging, onwards movement and integration (RSO&I); defense support to civil authorities and defending the homeland.
The two functional roles that could come up include leading the land component of a combined task force or the land component commander of a combined coalition force.
Flynn said training in Hawaii and Alaska is very useful for preparing for potential combat n the regional, because they uniquely reflect potential scenarios in the region.
“The 8 islands across Hawaii looks an awful lot like the Luzon Strait, they look an awful lot like the Taiwan Strait, they look an awful lot like the island features, the 15,000 islands that go across Indonesia & into Papua New Guinea.”
Flynn said separately that the enormous cold, mountainous and extreme environments in Alaska is what the Army would likely see in any potential conflict in Indian mountains or South Korea.