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NEWS | Oct. 15, 2014

Pacific Pathways Increases Readiness Through Partnership

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The “Pacific Pathways” concept is an innovative and experimental approach to increasing Army readiness through partnership, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific said here yesterday.

Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks explained the concept during a panel discussion at the annual Association of the United States Army symposium at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

“This is an innovation in large measure,” Brooks said. “It’s a new way of doing something we have been doing already. We have already been participating in exercises around the region.”

The Pacific Pathways concept

The Pacific Pathways concept involves joining multinational partners to conduct a three-part series of military exercises intended to increase Army readiness through additional training and strengthened partner-force relationships. Brooks said that as a senior officer he views exercises differently now than he has previously.

“Exercises are really an agreement between countries for foreign troops to be on sovereign soil,” he said. “So if you begin to think about it that way, we’ve used … these agreements for U.S. troops as foreign troops to be present in a sovereign country, as the basis upon which we designed the Pacific Pathways.”

The first iteration or proof of concept for Pacific Pathways -- which involves Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan -- is just ending, the general said, with command and control and support provided by U.S. Army Pacific elements 1st Corps, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division.

Innovation of Pacific Pathways

The innovation of this concept, Brooks said, is how the Army goes to those designated places, and how it organizes itself for it.

“We’re doing what the Army has always done,” he added. “We’re going to move units and equipment -- we’ve put them on ships, just as we did in 1898, and we move into the place we’re going to go.”

Now, a century later, “we’ve started using aircraft to join the troops themselves with the equipment,” Brooks said. Projecting from home bases to participate in not just one of the exercises, but rather in a series of exercises, is new, the general said.

As a result of doing that, Brooks said, engagement with others, such as the State Department and the Defense Department, has come in a different way.

“We engage with regional partners where the exercise is going to occur in a different way,” he said, “because configuration might be different than the previous year’s exercise. And it has to be tailored to what that country can accept. It is different in that it brings together an enterprise approach to projecting ourselves from home stations abroad over the great expanses of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

It also has been transformative in many ways, he said, based on how the Army projects itself in a tailored structure around the region while building readiness into the deployed force.

“There’s experimentation that happens here, also,” Brooks said. “We find that as we’re doing this we can experiment with different operating concepts.”

It also allows experimentation with different technologies, he said, as industry and others find opportunities to shake something out in a tremendous battle lab that’s on the move.

Key points

The general shared three key points of emphasis on Pacific Pathways. First, he said, it is an operational deployment -- everything that goes into operational deployments anywhere goes into this operation. The planning, preparation, execution, ordering of craft to move troops, and planning for security all are included, he added.

“There are some additional dimensions, too, like passport planning [and] visa planning, that aren’t like our traditional deployments,” Brooks said. “But it is a deployment, nevertheless, and an operation.”

Brooks’ second point was Pacific Pathways is “part of our engagement structure and strategy.”

“This is not the limit of what we’re doing,” he said. “It is a part -- a very important part -- because of its innovation, transformation [and] experimentation characteristics.”

Additionally, Brooks noted, it is economical, as he anticipated it would be.

“It really requires an enterprise approach to do this, and that is an enterprise that organizes from top to bottom from department level to executing unit,” he said. It’s also an enterprise approach in terms of contributing capabilities that make it possible to employ the concept, Brooks said, lauding supporting elements such as Military Sealift Command, Army Materiel Command and all of the U.S. Army’s components.

“The enterprise approach, from top to bottom, and horizontally as well, is essential to this,” he added.

Brooks’ final point was that Pacific Pathways is shaped by the countries involved in the exercises in conjunction with the State Department