War on Terror Victory Tops PACOM's Priorities
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 7, 2006 Winning the war on terrorism is U.S. Pacific Command's highest priority, the command's leader told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
To achieve that goal, the command is striving to eliminate the violence that now threatens the people and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and, more importantly, to transform at-risk environments, Navy Adm. William J. Fallon said.
"We have in place key elements to succeed in advancing U.S. security interests and enhancing regional stability - vibrant alliances, opportunities for new partnerships, combat ready and agile forces, and committed soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to lead our efforts," Fallon said in a prepared statement.
"Southeast Asia remains the (command's) focal point in the war on terror," Fallon said. "The southern Philippines, Mindano and the Sulu archipelago remain a sanctuary, training and recruiting ground for terrorist organizations."
He said the command's Joint Interagency Task Force West coordinated military-to-military training, information sharing, law enforcement training and infrastructure development projects throughout the theater.
"In a major success, the Interagency Fusion Center in Jakarta, Indonesia, provided significant assistance to the raid on an industrial-scale drug lab outside Jakarta," Fallon said. The raid resulted in the largest seizure of drugs in Indonesian history and was among the largest in the world.
The command is also working to mature joint and combined warfighting capability and readiness. "Fundamental to success in the war on terror and continued stability in the Asia-Pacific region is our joint and combined warfighting capability and readiness," Fallon said. "As virtually every operation and activity is conducted jointly and in concert with allies, it is important that we train to operate more efficiently as a multinational team."
To that end, Fallon said the revised Pacific Command training plan is specifically designed to further develop joint and combined warfighting capability and advance security cooperation while more effectively using resources. Another goal in redesigning the training plan was to maximize what he described as "scarce training dollars" while minimizing stress on the force.
The command streamlined training exercises and leveraged forces in theater, he said. "Through the routine interaction created by our exercises, we expect to reduce existing interoperability barriers, increase military capacity and confidence, and enhance the likelihood of an effective regional response to future crises," he said.
The command still requires improvements in anti-submarine warfare, intelligence collection and persistent surveillance, command and control, and airlift and sealift capabilities, he said.
The command is also focusing on making sure that operational plans are credible, the admiral said. "Operational plans from the basis for military requirements in peacetime and initial response in war," Fallon said. "At PACOM, we bring to the planning process a culture that challenges assumptions, analyzes with rigor, and demands refinement when variables change."
The command also is working to advance regional security cooperation from many countries in its area of responsibility. An example is the command's enlisted leadership development program that helps regional militaries enhance the professionalism and capacity of these militaries' enlisted forces.
Fallon spoke about relations with the various countries of the region:
Japan's alliance with the U.S. is undergoing changes to ensure its relevance in the long term.
Republic of Korea, whose alliance with the U.S. is sound and continues to form the foundation to peace and security on the Korean peninsula. "The U.S.-ROK alliance must remain adaptable in light of the changing security environment, including unconventional threats, China's military modernization, and the potential for reconciliation between the Koreas," he said.
Australia and U.S. military forces coordinate security cooperation and counterterrorism activities in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia also plays a leading role in security operations in East Timor, the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, and maritime security in the Pacific Islands.
Republic of the Philippines, challenged by recent threats to stability, appears committed to democratic practices and rules of law. "I am encouraged by the continued support and involvement of the Philippine government in significant regional events," Fallon said.
Thailand is Treaty Ally of the United States and maintains a robust military relationship with the United States, including the annual Cobra Gold exercise.
India and the United States are working together to resolve issues of mutual interest such as maritime security, counterterrorism and disaster relief.
Singapore and the United States signed a Strategic Framework Agreement in July recognizing Singapore as a major security cooperation partner.
Indonesia plays a unique strategic role in Southeast Asia and the Muslim world. Located in close proximity to strategic trade routes, the world's most populous Muslim nation is critically important to security in the Pacific.
China's rapidly expanding economy, growing demand for energy and clear aim to assume a more prominent role in regional and international affairs is having a major impact on the Asia-Pacific security environment.
Taiwan's ability to defend itself is the focus of the command's military engagement. "We have seen strong interest by the Taiwan military in strengthening their defensive capabilities," he added.
Mongolia, a staunch ally fighting terror around the world, is striving to establish a regional center for peacekeeping training. "Khaan Quest, a PACOM-Mongolia peacekeeping exercise, will serve as a capstone to this year's peacekeeping training efforts," he said.
Malaysia's government has supported the "Eyes in the Sky" initiative to increase combined aerial surveillance over the Strait of Malacca and stood up an agency like the U.S. Coast Guard called the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Vietnam's military-to-military relationship with the United States is progressing in a "modest but positive" direction, Fallon said.
New Zealand has been a strong supporter of the war on terrorism, but its 1986 legislative ban of nuclear powered ships in its waters hampers improved military-to-military relations.
"We (also) continue to reinforce our special relationship with the three 'freely associated' states - the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Island, and the Republic of Palau," Fallon said.
These improved capabilities, in at least two cases, also have reduced the impact on the local populace in the Republic of Korea and Japan. In Korea, the overall number of U.S. military personnel will decrease, Fallon said.
In Japan the changes, courtesy of the Japan Alliance Transformation and Realignment negotiations, include transfer of U.S. carrier tactical aviation from Atsugi Naval Air Facility to Marine Corps Air Facility Iwakuni (Japan), and collocation of U.S. and Japanese air command and control at Yokota Air Base, he said.
The negotiations, nearing completion with an agreed implementation plan expected by March 30, also provide for reduction of the Marine footprint on Okinawa by about 7,000 Marines. Those servicemembers would be relocated to Guam, Fallon said.