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NEWS | Nov. 17, 2023

USARPAC Commanders Conference: Deterring Conflict in the Pacific

By MAJ Matt Ryan

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) senior leaders gathered at Fort Shafter, Hawaii from November 8-9, 2023, for the biannual USARPAC Commanders Conference. The two-day conference included USARPAC Commanders, Command Sergeants Major, and senior leaders from throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The conference focused on how USARPAC will fight in the theater.

USARPAC’s Commanding General Gen. Charles Flynn opened the Commanders Conference by noting that a strong U.S. Army presence in the Pacific theater is an indispensable element that contributes to the Joint Forces’ effort to deter the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Flynn emphasized that USARPAC’s mission remains deterrence and preventing war, yet the U.S. Army in the Pacific must be ready to prevail in crisis or conflict if necessary.

Gen. James Rainey, the commanding general of U.S. Army Futures Command and keynote speaker, talked to the group via video teleconference on the US Army of 2040 and the character of war. Rainey highlighted the unchanged need for landpower in the Indo-Pacific theater. “Land still matters,” Rainey said. “Land is decisive, and the US Army’s strength lies in its leaders' and soldiers’ ability to shoot, move, and communicate.”

The Commanders Conference culminated in a large-scale “Refinement of Concept” (ROC) drill. USARPAC commanders and senior leaders briefed their wartime mission, solidified command relationships, and war plan key tasks during the ROC drill.

Flynn opened the wargame ROC drill and focused the group to identify and frame the problem in the Indo-Pacific theater. Flynn implored the group to define what winning looks like and create solutions to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s provocations and ambitions to undermine the rules-based international order.

Flynn drove the ROC drill from start to finish and motivated the participants to take the tactical-level actions USARPAC units achieve in the theater to solve operational and strategic-level problems.

I Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson reiterated Flynn’s message and highlighted protection challenges and the urgency to get in position with the right capabilities.

8th Theater Sustainment Command Commander Maj. Gen. Jered Helwig echoed Brunson’s views and underscored contested logistics challenges and the need for forward-positioned Army prepositioned stocks in the theater.

All USARPAC senior commanders present agreed for the need to hold ROC drills at their command-level and come back together to share insights and lessons learned.

Attendance at this year’s conference enabled USARPAC senior leaders to focus on how landpower supports the 2022 National Defense Strategy’s three pillars of Integrated Deterrence, Campaigning, and actions that build Enduring Advantage. Three of the “ways” USARPAC supports the three pillars are through the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center, Operation Pathways, and Joint Interior Lines.

The next USARPAC Commanders Conference is scheduled for May 2024.

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