The U.S. Army in the Pacific: Assuring Security and Stability

April 8, 2013

Even as the Army draws down from more than a decade of constant operations in the Middle East, it remains capable of undertaking independent action to defeat enemies, deter aggression, shape the environment and provide support to civil authorities. At the same time, it can perform across the range of military operations with myriad partners, simultaneously helping friends and allies while deterring foes. The Army’s ready capabilities allow the United States to respond quickly around the world, providing a presence that advances American national security and contributes to global peace and stability. Although demand for Army forces in Afghanistan will, in all likelihood, continue to decrease, the requirement for strategic landpower—especially in the Pacific—will endure. Strategic landpower force—Army, Marine and special operations ground forces that help achieve nationallevel security objectives—prevent conflict, shapes the environment and ultimately wins the nation’s wars.

The Asia–Pacific region has emerged as one of the world’s most militarily significant and challenging regions. The 2012 U.S. defense strategic guidance recognized that fact and directed a rebalance of effort toward the Asia–Pacific. In the words of the commander of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), rebalance encompasses all aspects of U.S. engagement—diplomatic, economic and political as well as military—a whole-ofgovernment approach. To accomplish this, the USPACOM strategy centers on three rebalancing efforts:

  • geography: renew, modernize, strength–alliances and partnerships;
  • capability: invest in hardware, systems and technologies to sustain force structure;
  • capacity: be resilient in response to chronic and catastrophic natural or man-made crises.

The combatant commander believes that to address these rebalances properly, it is imperative to view the Pacific as an “Indo–Asia–Pacific” conglomerate—one strategic arc. (Note: That arc could also encompass Central and Latin American countries, e.g., Chile, that border or have enduring interests in the Pacific.)

Within this strategic arc, the U.S. Army’s role is to be responsive, as part of the joint force, to combatant commands’—in this case USPACOM’s—strategy/strategic direction. The Army has designated U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), located at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, as the Army service component command (ASCC) to USPACOM as well as the forward-deployed theater army in support of land operations in the Pacific region. Army forces (under the mission command of USARPAC) demonstrate the potential for decisive land domain operations in the USPACOM area of responsibility (AOR) both in day-to-day operations and during crisis response. USARPAC’s strategy pursues security and stability through partnerships, posture and preparedness by means of four core tenets: trained and ready forces; persistent engagement; agile mission command; and forward presence. These tenets work hand in hand to achieve Army, USPACOM and Department of Defense (DoD) objectives while setting conditions for rapid responses to a full variety of contingencies and, if necessary, to win in combat. USARPAC’s presence, forward deployed in the region, sends a signal of security, stability and commitment to allies and partners.

As the United States refocuses the instruments of national power on the Asia–Pacific region, it does so in the face of significant opportunities and challenges, especially in an era of declining resources. USARPAC helps assure security and stability in a region vital to the security interests of the United States by providing USPACOM and DoD with capability- and capacity-building landpower. Strategic landpower—the U.S. Army— provides the nation unique capabilities as a credible and valuable contributor to many of the instruments of national power.