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Growth in Partnerships Signals U.S. Success in Indo-Pacific

The increased appetite among allies and partners to participate in multinational exercises throughout the Indo-Pacific is a key indicator that the United States' strategy in the region is paying off, said Gen. Charles A. Flynn, commander of U.S. Army Pacific. 

A line of soldiers walks through a field in battle gear.
Super Garuda Shield
Soldiers assigned to assigned to the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, and Indonesian soldiers maneuver through the jungle while on patrol during Super Garuda Shield 2023 in Indonesia, Sept. 4, 2023.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Alex Manne
VIRIN: 230904-A-XH155-8257Y

Flynn noted yesterday there's been a significant increase in the desire of regional allies to participate in multinational training events in recent years. 

"This thirst and this behavior that they are exhibiting in the region is they appreciate the ability to come together as a multinational force [and] learn from one another, and they are doing it more and more," Flynn said of U.S. partners in the Indo-Pacific. "To me, that is the greatest indicator of the success we are having." 

He added that the exercises are a sign that U.S. allies are "speaking with their actions" in response to China's aggressive behavior in the region. 

Soldiers wearing battle gear smile while shaking hands.
Amphibious Assault Exercise
U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2/1, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit; German sailors; and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers meet during Talisman Sabre 23 in the town of Midge Point in Queensland, Australia, July 26, 2023.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Manuel Alvarado
VIRIN: 230726-M-YJ953-1140Y

"Those actions are … [they] want to participate in more multilateral and multinational exercises," he said. "And they're showing up to do that." 

Flynn cited this year's completion of the largest ever Talisman Sabre, a biennial exercise designed to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific by strengthening partnerships and interoperability among key allies.   

This year, the 10th iteration of the exercise included nearly 30,000 troops from 13 nations. Several Pacific island partners — including Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga — participated for the first time. 

A U.S. soldier in battle gear points while standing next to another soldier in a field.
Defense Plan
A U.S. and Indonesian soldier communicate a defense plan during Exercise Super Garuda Shield 2023 in Indonesia, Sept. 6, 2023.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Keith Thornburgh
VIRIN: 230906-A-FU327-2011Y

He also noted the largest ever iteration of the ongoing Exercise Super Garuda Shield in Indonesia, which has brought together seven participating nations and 12 observing nations.  

The exercises are among the more than 40 army-to-army and joint exercises led by the U.S. each year as part of Operation Pathways, a collection of multinational exercises throughout the Indo-Pacific and a key pillar of the United States' integrated deterrence strategy.  

Flynn's remarks during a roundtable discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington echo optimism expressed by Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs.  

"We are delivering on our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and absolutely strengthening deterrence in the region," the assistant secretary Ratner said at the Defense News Conference in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday.  

He noted that U.S. military-to-military relations between the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the other countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are stronger than they had ever been." 

"The upshot is that we have been engaging in a number of activities with them that have … led to a more distributed mobile, resilient and lethal [U.S.] force posture in the region," Ratner said.

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