LANPAC spotlights critical role of land forces in Indo-Pacific stability
Land forces remain vital to ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, despite the vast oceans and seas that characterize the area, the United States Army Pacific commander told participants in the region’s largest conference for armies in mid-May 2022.
“Land power in this region is absolutely critical and it has been for a long time,” Gen. Charles Flynn, pictured, said during his opening address at the Land Forces Pacific (LANPAC) Symposium & Exposition, an Association of the United States Army (AUSA) event.
Home to 60% of the world’s population and 80% of natural disasters, the Indo-Pacific is buffeted by border disputes, rising sea levels, violent extremism and intensifying competition for resources such as water, minerals and food, as well as “other incremental and invasive challenges that go against sovereign rights and sovereign nations,” Flynn said.
In the face of such destabilizing factors, the relationships and readiness of a land power network allow for a “fingertip feel and a grassroots sense of what’s actually happening,” he said. “Through land power, we protect our nations, we secure our borders, we understand the region’s dynamics and its challenges. We understand them in a way that only comes when Soldiers work with Soldiers — on land.”
Nearly 2,000 military leaders and personnel, government officials and defense industry representatives from about two dozen nations gathered in Honolulu, Hawaii, for LANPAC 2022. It was the first time since 2019 that the AUSA event was held in person because of the pandemic.
For Australian land forces, much of that intervening period has been consumed with battling domestic crises such as COVID-19 and devastating wildfires, Lt. Gen. Rick Burr, chief of the Australian Army, said during his keynote speech. “Presence, persistence and staying power are all critical elements of what land forces can provide,” he said.
Burr highlighted Australia’s efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships, including by expanding bilateral and multilateral exercises such as Talisman Sabre and Southern Jackaroo. “Partnerships cannot be taken for granted,” he said, adding that collaboration “helps us to think bigger than ourselves … and improves our resilience.”
LANPAC featured multinational panel discussions on topics including deterring aggression through joint and coalition readiness, integrated air and missile defense, and multi-domain operations. Dozens of military components, defense firms and academic organizations presented their products and services at the exposition.
“LANPAC creates and perpetuates bonds, which form trust among militaries, helping us gain a richer understanding of our allies and partners’ initiatives and concerns,” Maj. Gen. Joel “JB” Vowell, commander of U.S. Army Japan, said in a news release.
In conjunction with LANPAC, the AUSA Center of Leadership conducted its inaugural Junior Leader Solarium to provide professional development to commissioned, noncommissioned and warrant officers, and civilian personnel. The nearly 100 participants, representing allied and partner nations including Australia, Canada, Fiji, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the U.S., cooperated on an exercise focused on the People’s Republic of China’s use of economic and diplomatic power in Southeast Asia.
Multilateral collaboration also was the theme of the panel discussion on combined joint training in the Indo-Pacific. “Training among the Pacific island countries is essential,” Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maj. Gen. Mark Goina said.
While small and with limited capabilities compared with their military partners Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., Pacific island defense forces bring “capability and commitment to the table, both of which are force multipliers in addressing threats to regional stability,” Goina said. “Although we play a small part in the mission, we want our partners to understand, respect and value our contribution.”
IMAGE CREDIT: SEAN KIMMONS/U.S. ARMY GARRISON-JAPAN