Army Continues Growing Partnerships in Indo-Pacific

Army Continues Growing Partnerships in Indo-Pacific

People at a panel discussion
Photo by: AUSA/Jared Lieberher

Cooperation between the U.S. Army and its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific continues to grow rapidly, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific said.

“Our activities are moving quickly from bilateral to multilateral,” Gen. Charles Flynn said, adding that engagements and cooperation have “increased tenfold over the last three to four years.”

Additionally, “our training has increased in realism and with a sense of urgency in developing new concepts and creating new capabilities,” Flynn said May 15 during a panel discussion on forward positioning and tactical defense at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2024 LANPAC Symposium and Exposition in Honolulu.

As an example, there were about 30,000 troops from several countries training in Australia during the recent Talisman Sabre exercise, he said. Garuda Shield in Indonesia has grown from two participating countries to 15 and then 19.

This growing scale of exercises in the region makes training “exponentially harder, but it’s also helping us practice and rehearse,” Flynn said.

Allies and partners must continue to train together, said Lt. Gen. Simon Stuart, chief of the Australian army. “We’re getting better and faster every day,” he said.

While the goal for the U.S. and its partners is to deter conflict, the joint and combined force also must be ready to fight if needed, Stuart said. “We must always assume by the way we plan and execute, [that] in the case of deterrence failing, we would need to transition to offense,” he said. “We would need to develop relevant and credible forces that can transition to the offense and can defeat any oppressor.”

Another challenge for the combined force is to make sure it is positioned correctly across the vast Indo-Pacific, Stuart said. “The distances and scale are breathtaking,” he said. “If you’re already there alongside allies and partners, it helps defeat the tyranny of distance.”

Presence is especially important on the Korean peninsula, where there are heightened military tensions, said Gen. An Su Park, chief of staff of the Republic of Korea Army.

Speaking through a translator, Park said that North Korea continues to try escalating tensions and still finds a way to seek funding for its nuclear and missile programs. North Korea also continues “colluding” with China and Russia, “worsening our security environment,” Park said.

“In order to deter further provocation, close cooperation with likeminded countries like ours are essential,” Park said, adding that South Korea “would like to see more opportunities” to build multilateral cooperation.

Gen. Yasunori Morishita, chief of staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, agreed. Also speaking through a translator, Morishita voiced his support for more opportunities to train and work together.

Looking ahead, “we’re on an accelerated trajectory,” Stuart said about working and training together. “There’s great unity of effort, and we’re bringing it all together in a more coherent campaign approach in the coming year.”