FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – Regional army chiefs and leaders participated in the virtual Indo-Pacific Land Power Conference, May 18 - 19, 2021, hosted by U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Gen. Paul J. LaCamera.
“This IPLC conference is an opportunity for us to learn, teach and share each other’s own perspectives,” LaCamera said. “Although this conference is only two days. Our cooperation and collaboration should be continuous, so we can improve our engagements and advance our lines of effort. Events like IPLC offer opportunities to share best practices, build mutual trust and strengthen the security of each nation’s interest.”
The theme for this year’s conference was “Preserving a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Through Strength and Preparedness.” Leaders from 22 militaries joined Army leaders, representatives from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Joint Force, and partners in academia in a series of keynote addresses and panel discussions about the challenges in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Providing first-day opening keynote remarks, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville spoke about the importance of allies and partners.
“Together with allies and partners, we have many more options collectively than we do as individual nations to maintain strength and readiness in the region,” said McConville. “A strong military comes from strong relationships, [and] with allies and partners in the region.”
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Commander Adm. John Aquilino, joined the conference and emphasized experimentation and integration with partners and allies.
“We need to operate, exercise, and experiment every day with both the joint force and our partners and allies to master our skills,” said Aquilino. “My goal is to generate a level of deterrence where we have an integrated Combined Joint Force distributed west of the International Date Line that can be protected, sustained, and is capable of fully integrating with all allies and partners.”
The topic for Panel 1 was, “Shared Challenges and Opportunities for Land Operations in the Indo-Pacific,” moderated by Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies Deputy Director Brig. Gen. (retired) James Hirai. During his opening comments, Hirai spoke about the importance of land operations, saying that the Indo-Pacific may be dominated by the sea and air, but one hundred percent of the people live on the land, which is the basis of sovereignty.
U.S. Army Pacific Deputy Commanding General Jonathan P. Braga and panel chair also spoke on the importance of the land component in the maritime domain and how these efforts help protect sovereignty, whether from state forces, illegal fishing, terrorism or other threats.
U.S. Army Pacific Foreign Policy Advisor Evan Felsing noted the importance that the new administration places on the Indo-Pacific. He referred to the fact the first trip of the Secretary of State was to Japan and Korea, during panel two.
Maj. Gen. Masayoshi Arai, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force director general of policy and programs, discussed countering challenges to regional security.
“A free and open Indo-Pacific is not achieved alone, and requires cooperation from all nations no matter their size. And it is even more critical today, as we learn to operate under the impacts of COVID-19 and face increased challenges to international rules and norms,” said Arai.
Extreme Cold Weather/Mountaineering Operations in the Indo-Pacific was the subject for the third panel.
U.S. Army Alaska Commanding General Maj. Gen. Peter B. Andrysiak discussed the importance of the Arctic.
“We are re-building knowledge and proficiency to operate in extreme cold weather, mountainous, and high-latitude environments,” said Andrysiak. “To compete in the Arctic and globally, we will work with Indo-Pacific and Arctic allies and partners. We are expanding partnerships with Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark; re-invigorating partnerships with Japan, Canada, India and Mongolia; and expanding training and educational opportunities with Korea, Nepal, and Chile.”
The final panel was titled, “Land Power Information Challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
"There are certain capabilities, certain TTP's [tactics, techniques and procedures], certain things we can provide our partners to enable them and their greatest contribution to us is local knowledge,” said Commanding General U.S. Army Cyber Command Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty. “The more we do with our partners the better we understand what they are facing.”
“We must learn from each other, improve our engagement and advance our lines of effort,” Braga said. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic situation, there are some benefits as well — we can all virtually gather together. We look forward to continuing to share these lessons learned.”