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U.S. ‘Partner of Choice’ For Indo-Pacific Partners

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U.S. Army
Friday, July 12, 2019

The U.S. is a partner of choice when it comes to training and advising allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region, an Army special operations leader said.

“We’re the partner of choice because the U.S. has extensive combat experience,” said Col. Owen Ray, commander of the 1st Special Forces Group.

The 1st Special Forces Group, an Indo-Pacific regionally aligned and forward postured Army special operations forces unit, works with partner nations to provide training and guidance. The focus includes building resilience, strengthening their ability to defend their own sovereignty and defending them from coercion from external forces, Ray said.

“Our best strength is to work with our partners and build their capacity to deal with some of these problems themselves,” he said.

The goal is for these nations to take the lead—whether facing state competition, foreign fighters or terrorism—so U.S. Special Forces soldiers do not need to get involved.

“You look at that theater and it’s a large area of the world, and it’s the threats we do face—everything from counterterrorism to active competition with a near-peer competitor—that’s growing,” Ray said.

He added that there’s always a threat of foreign fighters or counterterrorism to watch, but the U.S. is well postured among its partners in Southeast Asia. These nations have the capacity to not only deal with these threats but also keep them regional, he added.

The 1st Special Forces Group, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and comprised of roughly 2,500 personnel, averages about 50 engagements across 14 nations every year.

“We can’t be everywhere,” Ray said. “We’re a limited size force, and so we have to work through partners for them to be able to solve some of these issues.”