ADM Phil Davidson
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) TechNet Indo-Pacific Conference (Recorded Remarks)
1 March 2021
As Prepared for Delivery
Aloha everyone! I hope this message finds you well and in good health. It is truly a pleasure to participate in the first virtual TechNet.
I would like to thank Admiral Dick Macke, AFCEA International, and AFCEA Hawaii for making this event possible.
Your efforts to host this conference despite the challenges presented by COVID demonstrates the type of adaptability, innovation, and perseverance needed to address the dynamic security challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
I am grateful for the opportunity to address this group for the third time while in command.
In my first appearance, I spoke to you about the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision and how it drives our Joint Force efforts and shapes our approach in the region.
Then in 2019, I discussed China’s strategic threat to the idea of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific with special emphasis on the information domain.
Today, I would like to share a preview of the message I am delivering to the Department of Defense and Congress over the next few weeks.
My intent is to provide an overarching context that informs your discussions during this conference.
Hopefully it will also spark further dialogue, debate, and deep thought within your professional circles, well beyond the next few days.
Now, as part of my duties as a combatant commander, I am required to submit two official documents to Congress – as directed by the National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA).
The two are entirely separate but complimentary and – for ease of discussion – they tell the story of the Indo-Pacific.
The first is my annual posture statement that provides the overall status of the security environment in the Indo-Pacific Theater – it reinforces my annual testimony hearing before Congress.
The second is an independent assessment outlining INDOPACOM’s most pressing warfighting requirements to inform the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (or PDI).
The initiative was established by Congress in Fiscal Year 21 specifically to address joint requirement shortfalls given the threats we face from Great Power Competition.
Foundationally, both the posture statement and independent assessment were constructed around one fundamental truth:
The greatest danger we face in the Indo-Pacific region is the erosion of conventional deterrence vis-à-vis China.
Without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China will be emboldened to take action to supplant the established rules-based international order.
Our Joint Forces in the Indo-Pacific must be postured to provide combat credible deterrence to protect free and open access to trade routes through the air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace.
To effectively deter, we need to arm the Joint Force with the proper capabilities, capacities, authorities, and indeed the doctrine to support rapid force employment, accurate offensive power, and effective defenses.
And we have to demonstrate – and communicate – our will – and our commitment to the political object at hand.
We must convince Beijing that the costs to achieve its objectives by military force are simply too high.
INDOPACOM is pursuing a forward deployed, deterrence-in-depth posture to defend the homeland and protect our values and interests globally.
In doing so, we will achieve an advantageous security environment by demonstrating the capability, capacity, and will to deny China’s objectives and – if necessary – to impose costs on their military forces.
At the heart of it, our forces must be maneuverable – agile if you will – and have the depth of multi-domain fires needed to achieve positional advantage; we must leverage an array of interoperable and compatible allies and partners, and we must regularly demonstrate the “deterability” to deny and defeat.
To accomplish all of this, there are four key focus areas that guide INDOPACOM’s approach to providing combat credible conventional deterrence in the region.
First, we must increase our joint force lethality.
The fundamental design is an integrated Joint Force that can deny an adversary’s ability to dominate the sea, air, land, space, and cyber domains – and in turn, support our own ability to control and project in all domains, sometimes periodically, and sometimes persistently.
Our Joint Force must more fully integrate its cyber capabilities, space forces, special operations forces, and ground forces equipped with long-range fires with air and maritime forces to present the “lethality” – the effective deterrent that holds an adversary at risk.
And it is not enough to play defense alone – catching missiles with missiles is the hardest thing we do – we must also maintain a strong offense to fight and win should deterrence fail.
Our investments and modernization efforts must harness the advanced capabilities provided by a network of leading-edge technologies, such as:
Integrated Air and Missile Defenses that employ multiple sensors and interceptors distributed across the region to protect – not only the Homeland including our U.S. territories, but also our U.S. forces forward.
These defenses must leverage, integrate, and protect our critical allies and partners as well.
A highly capable, fully adaptable, and proven system – like AEGIS – established in fixed locations like Guam, will deliver persistent 360-degree, integrated air missile defense from the Second Island Chain.
We have billions of dollars in military capability and infrastructure, numerous command and control nodes, repair and logistics and sustainment facilities, and thousands of U.S. citizens to protect and defend in Guam.
And here in Hawaii, the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H) represents the solution for the gap in our ability to detect, track, discriminate, and defeat ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missile threats.
Long Range Precision Strike to hold at risk a variety of target sets from distances both “in the clinch” and from outside the ring.
These advanced weapons systems are significant and absolutely require an integrated, cross-Service and cross-system design to unleash the full potential of the Joint Force.
The deployment of Tomahawk, SM-6, LRASM, HIMARS, and Long Range Hypersonics are but a few examples of these long range fires that will require our adversaries to consider further investment in defense systems.
Joint Command and Control (C2) Networks provide speed and flexibility in decision-making, which allows penetration and then disintegration of an adversary’s systems, thereby defeating their offensive capabilities.
The Tactical Multi-Mission Over-the-Horizon Radar (TACMOR) will provide a persistent, long-range, detect and track capability of air and surface targets west of the International Date Line.
This capability will dramatically increase our situational awareness with wide-area, detection, and tracking of air and surface targets in the region and provide early warning to prevent surprise attacks.
Additionally, a constellation of Space-Based Persistent Radars with rapid revisit rates to provide the ability to maintain a heightened situational awareness of PLA activity.
The combination of artificial Intelligence, quantum computing, remote sensing, machine learning, big data analytics, and 5G technology will provide the necessary sensing, C2, and deep fires capabilities to support our maneuver forces in any contested arena.
Indeed, these capabilities are critical enablers to deter day-to-day, in crisis, and key to our ability to fight and win.
Second, we must enhance our force design and posture.
A historical look at the region over the past 50 years highlights the shift of our U.S. force posture as we moved out of Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan in the 1970s and then out of the Philippines in the 1990s.
Now, we are adapting from our historic Service-centric focus on Northeast Asia and Guam toward a more integrated and distributed Joint Force blueprint.
This includes revising our Indo-Pacific force laydown with our allies and partners to account for China’s rapid modernization.
Our force design and posture in the region must enable the convergence of capabilities from multiple domains and create the virtues of mass without concentration.
This is accomplished by distributing a forward-deployed, joint force across the battlespace's breadth and depth while balancing lethality and survivability.
Persistent presence thru forward-based and rotational joint forces is the most credible way to demonstrate our commitment and resolve to Beijing, while simultaneously assuring allies and partners.
This forward presence allows the Joint Force to sustain these forces to support combat operations over extend time periods.
It requires a deterrent posture that possesses the sustainment and force protection to be resilient, survivable, and supportable.
The third focus area is strengthening our allies and partners.
Our constellation of allies and partners is the backbone of the free and open international order, providing a powerful force to counter malign activity and aggression.
We are seeking every opportunity to increase the frequency and intensity of our combined operations, exercises, and training with our allies and partners.
Even in the face of the COVID pandemic, we are increasing our interoperability and compatibility across the region to enhance our capabilities and improve our coordination for competition.
This manifests itself in information sharing agreements, foreign military sales, expanded military cooperation, and international security dialogues – such as TechNet – designed to address our mutual security concerns alongside our closest allies and partners.
The Mission Partner Environment (MPE) is the critical investment that provides for resilient and redundant joint and combined command and control to compete across all domains.
From the strategic to tactical level, MPE will provide theater-wide battle management and automated decision-making by accessing a multi-domain sensor network that functions across all domains.
This environment uses cloud-based technologies, integrated systems, and secure access controls to provide assured C4ISR with our allies and partners.
To accompany these info-sharing functions, we must have a robust command and control network for interoperable execution.
We are developing an integrated architecture to horizontally expand data-sharing among like-minded nations through the use of information fusion centers in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.
These fusion centers will combine and analyze sensor data from aircraft, ships, and space-based systems, building a common maritime picture between the U.S, our allies, and our partners to improve our collective surveillance of potential illegal fishing, trafficking activities, and transnational threats.
The fourth and final focus area is exercises, experimentation, and innovation – not only within the Joint Force – but with our other allies and partners as well.
The most effective way to combat the security challenges and demonstrate our resolve in today’s dynamic operating environment is through a continuous campaign of joint experimentation and high-fidelity, multi-domain training.
To accomplish this, we are pursuing the development of a joint network of live, virtual, and constructive ranges in key locations around the region.
Unfortunately, our current range, test, and/or training facilities are built separately by each Service – sometimes by their Service test and development community – and rarely with the Joint Force in mind. Further, they are not funded to enable joint training.
The Joint Force must have the ability to advance capability at scale – through accessible, large-scale, all-domain, and integrated ranges to support critical joint and combined training and exercises.
INDOPACOM is home to – and in close proximity to – numerous Service and national training, testing, and operational ranges and related facilities.
Some CONUS-based, joint examples include:
The Western Range at Vandenberg Air Force Base,
The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division test ranges in Point Mugu and China Lake, California,
The Nevada Test and Training Center at Nellis Air Force Base,
The The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, and
The Fallon Range Training Complex in Nevada.
And there are also several OCONUS facilities in the region:
The Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC),
The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Barking Sands on Kauai and the Pohakuloa Training Range (PTA) on the Big Island, and
The Reagan Test Site (RTS) on the Kwajalein atoll.
Integrating our U.S. ranges in the region with allied ranges in Japan and Australia will allow us to advance joint and combined capability and capacity in a fully instrumented live-virtual-constructive proving ground – something our allies and partners do not have currently.
An integrated U.S. and coalition force that regularly demonstrates operations across all domains presents new challenges and dilemmas to potential adversaries.
Certainly, the best way to accomplish this is through high-end, multi-domain, joint exercises.
We are modernizing our Joint Exercise Program into a series of joint and coalition exercises deliberately linked over time and space in the Western Pacific.
The INDOPACOM Joint Exercise Program will integrate existing ranges, training areas, and test facilities to generate force readiness, test emerging capabilities, and drive theater requirements.
Indeed, an advanced Joint Exercise Program – combined with a Joint Range Network – provides us the ability to reveal certain capabilities we want our adversaries to see and conceal the things we do not want them to see.
This is a major component of any strategy of deterrence.
The end state is an integrated coalition that can demonstrate operations effectively in all domains, assuring our international norms are protected and dissuading potential adversaries from military action.
The United States – alongside our allies and partners – must implement an evolving conventional deterrence strategy that demonstrates its capacity, its capability, and its will to win this competition.
My team at INDOPACOM has done an exceptional job designing a framework for the region to drive the strategic initiatives and operational concepts required to win in competition, crisis, and conflict.
Now, I need your help to take this design and continue to advance it in the theater.
This is done by fostering innovation, thinking critically, developing expertise, challenging assumptions, and working collectively to realize the full potential of our Joint Force.
We all play a part in advancing our Joint Force for the future security challenges and opportunities in the Indo-Pacific.
I thank you for your time today and for your desire to improve the prosperity and security of the Indo-Pacific – indeed, the most critical region on the planet.