Group Editor Marty Kauchak provides an update on the US military’s rebalance to the Pacific and examines the services’ efforts to maintain the training readiness of its regional forces.
The US’s Strategic Pivot to the Pacific, also known as the Pacific Rebalance, is underway. The initial security-oriented aspects of the rebalance seem to indicate the policy is more of a rhetorical change than a substantive one. Indeed, none of the Obama Administration’s plans call for increasing the number of Marines or Army forces in the Pacific region. While the Pentagon’s force planners resolve the final number of service men and women to support the administration strategy, the services are maintaining the training readiness of their increasingly dispersed forces throughout this Area of Responsibility (AOR).
In the past year, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) has relocated several air assets in Okinawa and Hawaii, but the bulk of that service’s rebalancing is on the horizon. The resulting end state is a transition from a heavily-concentrated Marine force in Northeast Asia region to four Marine Air Ground Task Forces geographically distributed across the Pacific, providing a more flexible and balanced capability throughout the entire Western Pacific.
From the Army’s perspective, Colonel Mike Donnelly, the public affairs officer at US Army Pacific (USARPAC), emphasized “The ‘demand signal’ for US Pacific Command (USPACOM) did not require assignment of additional [Army] forces to the Pacific.”
Donnelly went on to explain the components of this rebalance for his service include: maintaining contingency forces and expanding Army Air and Missile Defense capabilities to defend against an expanding threat.
For Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) the Rebalance will also be a gradual process not characterized by a sudden increase in US presence, but rather “deepening of its sustained long-term defense engagement,” according to MSgt Victoria Boncz, the command’s public affairs operations division manager.
The service, which already rotates F-22s, B-52s and B-2s throughout the region, primarily in Guam and Okinawa, will continue to maintain a presence of these and other aircraft to show its power line of projection and operation, and support the USPACOM commander in other ways.
In the maritime domain, this April, the first US Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS Freedom (LCS-1), arrived in Singapore. Four LCSs will eventually be rotationally, forward deployed to that island nation. The LCS force movements are the bow wave of more ships to be based in the Pacific region. By 2020, 60 percent of the Navy’s ships will be based on the West Coast or elsewhere in the Pacific, up from its current 50 percent level.
Live Training as the Key Readiness Enabler
The services will use an increasing blend of live, virtual and constructive (LVC), and in the case of the Army gaming (LVC-G), events to maintain the training readiness of a slightly larger but much more widely dispersed Pacific force structure. However it is the live training component of the theater training strategy which is the major element for building and maintaining unit, staff and individual training readiness for US and regional allied nations’ services. The scope and breadth of participating nations and exercise scenarios also permit the US to dramatically build military-to-military partnerships across the AOR.
Chuck Little, the deputy director of public affairs at MARFORPAC, noted his service’s regional live training strategy supports an attention-getting 125 exercises or more annually with more than 25 different Pacific-area training partners.
When Little spoke with MS&T this September, his command’s Marines in Australia were completing exercises Koolendong, Southern Frontier and Gold Eagle. Marines in each of these exercises, many of who were from Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, were increasing their interoperability along with their technical abilities to respond together where their aid and other skill sets may be required.
MARFORPAC Marines were also in several other Pacific sites for exercises, including the Philippines for Amphibious Landing Exercise and Japan for exercise Lejeune II, an aerial exercise to increase operational readiness, joint capabilities, and operational procedures.
“Into the rest of 2013 and the first half of 2014, Marines will be looking forward to further exercises with our Pacific training partners such as Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, Brunei and others. These exercises build capacity in each respective event, improve maritime security response, and improve the ability for seamless combined responses to prospective crises in this respective region,” Little also pointed out.
PACAF’s efforts to create and develop partnerships in the region include senior leader engagement, subject matter expert exchanges, mobile training teams, multilateral exercises, and participation in conferences – across the full spectrum of engagement.
“For example: there’s Talisman Saber with Australia and New Zealand; Cope North with Australia and Japan; Operation Pacific Angels in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia,” Boncz noted, and continued, “We integrate B-52s into exercises in Australia, Japan, The Philippines, and the Republic of Korea; into operational readiness inspections and aircraft training relocations; and into US forces stationed in Japan and the Republic of Korea. Our Theater Security Package squadrons and rotational F-22 aircraft continue to augment permanently-based units and integrate with our partner nation flying operations.”
As this article was written, the 2013 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) annual, bilateral naval exercise series was concluding, bring to closure an intensive operational schedule for US Pacific naval forces.
The 2013 CARAT included the United States and Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Timor Leste. The event was designed to enhance maritime security skills and operational cohesiveness among participating forces.
Vietnam participated in a 2013 CARAT-like exchange event.
The services also report important developments in the other training domains.
USARPAC is delivering an integrated and distributed M&S training environment primarily thru its five Mission Training Complexes (MTCs). Of special interest, reflecting the Army’s service-wide focus on developing the gaming domain, the MTCs have been structured to provide LVC with Gaming (LVC-G) capabilities and mission command training support across the Pacific.
“The M&S vision for USARPAC is to evolve unique and innovative capabilities in support of USARPAC lines of effort by leveraging advanced technologies and creative partnerships to best
replicate the complexities of the operational environment. USARPAC has the facilities and enablers to leverage the full capability of LVC-G integration to support Full Spectrum / Unified Land Operations training requirements,” Jim Guzior, the command’s Public Affairs Media Relations Chief, explained.
USARPAC’s M&S infrastructure and networks span the Pacific. USARPAC funds and oversees the Mission Command Training Support Program, through its support of the five MTCs that directly support USARPAC: The Korea Battle Simulation Center (KBSC) and USARPAC
Regional Simulation Center in Yongsan, Republic of Korea; and MTCs at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright in Alaska; and Sagami Depot in Japan. Guzior further noted the KBSC will move into a new MTC facility at Camp Humphreys, Korea in 2015.
A Joint Context
US forces in the Pacific region have taken the adage “train as you will operate” to a new plateau, with several joint and USARPAC commands providing additional M&S capabilities to units in the AOR.
The Pacific Warfighting Center, under the oversight of the US Pacific Command J7, provides exercise control and response cell spaces in support of major theater exercises, as well as network and planning support. The Korea Air Simulation Center (KASC) supplies Air Force M&S support to joint and theater exercises, primarily in support of the USARPAC Battlefield Coordination Detachments and Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC).
“As previously mentioned, KBSC provides simulation capability that supports large-scale, division and above, Army exercises and joint, combined and bi-lateral theater level exercises. The US Navy Tactical Training Group Pacific supports and funds Live Ballistic Missile Defense training for the AAMDC as part of its Joint Kill Chain events (Fleet Synthetic Training – Joint),” Guzior added.
Other Theater S&T Developments
The services will increase their infrastructure and other foundations of training readiness in the Pacific region through this decade.
The recently established Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability (JPMRC) will provide a “CTC-like” exportable LVC training construct to USARPAC, resulting in improved home station and exportable training experiences to assigned units and joint and multinational partners. Guzior emphasized this capability will significantly elevate US and regional partner capacity through joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational training events and partnered persistent engagement for increased readiness.
ARPAC training through the JPMRC construct will begin in Fiscal Year 2014.
Draughon Range near Misawa Air Force Base, Japan has recently been upgraded with the Joint Deployable Electronic Warfare Range. Boncz pointed out “While the system is not fully implemented yet, it will provide a true deployable and mobile LVC training system that utilizes non-threat specific Opposing Forces Command and Control, un-manned threat emitters and a constructive digital integrated air defense system capable of simulating multiple, double-digit, surface-to-air systems real time, and operates with all in-use US Air Force Air Combat maneuvering instrumentation systems.”
Cubic Defense Systems remains a major supplier of air combat maneuvering instrumentation systems to the Air Force.
PACAF, in conjunction with Air Combat Command, is improving other training infrastructure such as new Mission Training Centers (MTCs) that contain the latest in combat flight simulation systems for 4th and 5th generation fighters and bolster in-theater aircrew training.
In Korea, a new F-16 MTC is about to become fully operational. As this article was published, L-3 Link Simulation & Training, the center’s prime contractor, was scheduled to turn the facility over to its US Air Force customer this November.
Dominick Farinella, Link’s senior program manager, noted each F-16 MTC that his company delivers to the US Air Force includes four high-fidelity simulators, four Instructor/Operator Stations, two Brief/Debrief Systems, a Scenario Generation Station and a Mission Observation Center.
“The technology driver behind the F-16 Mission Training Center solution is L-3 Link’s HD World® integrated simulation product line. This consists of high-definition displays, image generators, databases and physics processing technology that combine to create realistic and relevant fighter training environments,” the industry training expert noted, and added, “The end result is that we are able to deliver a F-16 Mission Training Center training system with substantial fidelity and realism that helps to maximize pilot operational readiness while reducing overall training costs.”
Link’s F-16 MTC solution enables pilots to undergo simulation-based training that allows them to detect, determine the orientation of, recognize and identify targets with the same fidelity as they would when conducting an actual sortie. Of special note, in addition to local four ship training, “the F-16 Mission Training Center system connects to the Distributed Mission Operations Network (DMON) that enables pilots, at Kunsan for instance, to participate in mission training exercises with other DMO platforms in the region and around the world,” Farinella pointed out.
Additionally, a new MTC under construction at Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii will support F-22 aircrew training.
Boeing’s Training Systems and Government Services Group is the industry lead for this F-22 training project. Rachelle Lockhart, a company program spokesperson, said the Boeing-led industry team plans to have the center Ready for Training in June 2015.
One Boeing technology application featured are four fixed based simulators each with a high-fidelity F-22 cockpit providing a high resolution Constant Resolution Visual System (CRVS) to enhance training. Lockhart also pointed out the center’s “high-fidelity head-down displays are 1:1 representations of aircraft; the simulators are networked together to simulate a flight of F-22s operating in a single threat environment; and the simulators are controlled and monitored by an instructor at an Instructor Operating Station where the instructor can monitor the students.”
L-3 Simulation & Training provides the F-22 MTC cockpit. The CRVS and other subsystems are provided by Boeing and Boeing completes the final MTC integration.
Beyond new regional MTCs, PACAF is also including professional simulator instructor pilots to support A-10 aircrew training in Korea.
MARFORPAC has plans to add a Battle Staff Training Facility for the main cantonment in Guam. “As of right now, construction is planned to begin fiscal year 2019. The details of the exact design have not been determined yet, but it will include several simulation training parts,” Little emphasized.