Training Strategy in the Pacific Theater

By Brown, Robert B. | Joint Force Quarterly, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Training Strategy in the Pacific Theater

Brown, Robert B., Joint Force Quarterly


Today's security environment demands immense versatility and flexibility from our military. The Armed Forces must be able to meet the needs of the President and Secretary of Defense to respond across the full spectrum of operations--from major combat operations, to disaster relief, to humanitarian assistance. Additionally, our forces must be capable of operating in the joint and combined environments across the full spectrum of operations. The imperative to "train the way we operate" is as clear today as ever.

In the war on terror, which is characterized by the enemy's use of asymmetric tactics, it is paramount to have credible forces capable of fighting jointly and multinationally to deter aggression, respond to crises, and, above all, win. The U.S. military must continue to develop, mature, and integrate training that enables prompt and effective response to any and all contingencies that may confront the Nation. It is essential to train to new missions and technologies, train with new partners such as India and Indonesia, and provide world-class training venues and facilities. In order to keep pace with our enemies' rapidly evolving tactics, we are obliged to ensure that all training maximizes return on investment, especially in terms of time and money.

Asia-Pacific Challenges

The individual Services are responsible for training their respective forces, while sustaining a capacity to operate jointly falls upon the geographic combatant commander. U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) is thus responsible for ensuring that the Nation's military forces in the Asia-Pacific region remain a trained and ready agent for stability.

The Pacific theater offers many unique challenges to USPACOM forces. Unlike Europe, with its modern, high-tech armed forces linked by the world's largest alliance structure, the Asia-Pacific is characterized by developing nations, an extensive maritime environment, and a tradition of nonalignment. Stability is threatened by geopolitical and socioeconomic realities, as well as unresolved territorial claims, historic animosities, and lingering mistrust between countries. Many nations lack the capabilities to address their security challenges effectively.

Vast distances and high operational tempo also present challenges to military forces in the region. Although USPACOM has more troops assigned than any other combatant command, they are responsible for engaging in an area that covers more than half of the planet. Additionally, the Pacific theater is home to five of the seven nations with which the United States has mutual defense treaties (Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand), and the command is responsible for ensuring that our nation is prepared to meet these treaty obligations.

Additional challenges arise from population growth and increased environmental awareness, which continue to reduce the land and water spaces available for realistic military training. Most of USPACOM's forward-deployed forces are stationed in areas with relatively little room for exercising, such as Korea, Japan, Guam, and Hawaii. Furthermore, the funding environment for joint training is austere. This demands that we ensure the highest possible productivity in our training programs at all levels. Finally, while not interfering with the Services' Title 10 unit training responsibilities, USPACOM must pave the way in maximizing the synergy of inter-Service training by developing a strategy that clearly articulates the benefits of training together.

Joint Training Strategy

To ensure that U.S. forces remain preeminent and that the many challenges in the Asia-Pacific do not strain the ability of our military to train, USPACOM has refocused on improving joint and combined training. Underpinning this effort is the recent development of the Pacific Joint Training Strategy (PJTS). The PJTS vision is "a joint and combined training and exercise program that enhances, demonstrates, and certifies the readiness of USPACOM forces in challenging events combining live, virtual, and constructive environments. …

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