MODERATOR: Greetings to everyone from the U.S. Department of State’s Asia Pacific Media Hub. I would like to welcome our participants dialing in from the Asia Pacific region and around the world for this on-the-record briefing with Lieutenant General James B. Jarrard, Deputy Commanding General for the U.S. Army Pacific. General Jarrard will be joined today as well by Colonel Scott Shaw, Operations Officer, U.S. Army I Corps, and Brigadier General Jeffrey VanAntwerp, Deputy Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division.
Lieutenant General Jarrard will discuss the joint Pacific multinational training rotation happening in Hawaii on October 31st to November 9th, 2022. Soldiers from the armies of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand will participate, and 12 other nations will send observers to this multinational, multidomain military training event. Lieutenant General Jarrard will take questions from journalists after his opening remarks.
I’ll now turn it over to General Jarrard for his opening remarks. Sir, the floor is yours.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Thank you very much, and I appreciate everybody joining us for this discussion over the next 30 minutes or so. We’re here to talk about the United States Army Pacific Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center. And this is a new training facility that the Army has built here in the Pacific. We previously had three other training centers, two in the United States and one in Europe. But this is the first regional training center in the Indo-Pacific. We have three campuses. We have one here on Oahu, in Hawaii, we have one in Alaska, and we have one expeditionary capability.
But the purpose of these centers is to build readiness, prepare our soldiers as they move around the Indo-Pacific region, and interact and train with our key partners and allies. The benefits of the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center is that it keeps our trained, ready forces aggregated and available. Previously, when we had to send our forces back to the United States, it cost us a lot of money, so we’re getting to save some money, and it cost us a lot of time. It usually took about a month and a half to two months of transit time, and even more, for our equipment. And so it keeps our forces aggregated and available here in the region.
It also generates ready combat-credible forces, and we’re able to project those forces west of the International Date Line through Operation Pathways. We get to train in environments and conditions that we have here in the region. The national training center in Fort Irwin, California, it was a big desert, and that’s useful if you’re going and deploying to the Middle East, not so much if you’re out here in the Pacific. As well up in the – we have the jungle environment, we have the island archipelago environment that we have here in the Pacific, here in Hawaii. But up in Alaska we also have the cold high mountains that we have in other parts of the Pacific. We’re going to execute an exercise with India later this year in their high-altitude locations, and so this is a – it allows us to perfect and hone our cold-weather skills that we don’t get a chance to in other places in the United States.
It also helps us rehearse at echelon with joint multinational partners. You already heard the multinational partners that are here with us, and I’m sure we’ll talk more about that in the questions and answers, and we can experiment here as well. And we do experiments wherever the Army is located, but sometimes those experiments – the lessons that we learned are not necessarily applicable to an Indo-Pacific environment, and so that allows us to do those experiments out here in the terrain that we’re working and training in.
So I will stop there and let Colonel Shaw and Brigadier General VanAntwerp provide some opening comments, and then we’ll stand by for any questions. Scott, over to you.
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: This is General Jeff VanAntwerp. Scott, I think, is still trying to dial in. So I’ll kind of take it from there, if I could.
So the 25th Infantry Division is a division of approximately 13,000 personnel stationed in the Hawaiian islands, on the island of Oahu. In this event, JPMRC rotation 23-01 for this current training evolution is about a three-week exercise under that larger umbrella that General Jarrard just described of the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center. We’ll have about 6,000 of those 13,000 personnel immersed in what is the most realistic training environment that we can create this side of actual combat operations. And we’ll do that for a period of around three weeks. We’re currently in the initial phases, the planning phases and deployment phases, and then we’ll go into a 10 to 12-day field problem where the forces will be deployed into a theater that we have created with an overarching scenario, and they will exercise brigade-level combat operations with all of the associated (inaudible) against a free-thinking, very capable adversary.
In addition to our own elements in this exercise, we also have approximately 354 participants, which include three companies – one from Thailand, one from Indonesia, and one from the Philippines – and we’ve got multiple other observer countries who have come to observe the exercise to both see how we train and to take a look at potential for future participation.
In addition we’ve got a bunch of our own U.S. joint partners involved here. We’ve got large participation from the Air Force with lift aircraft as well as 6th Wing close air support and defensive counter-air. We’ve got participation from the U.S. Navy with a destroyer, which just last night we launched one of our special operations teams from that destroyer into what we call the box, the immersive training environment out here in the training areas of the islands of Hawaii. And then we’ve got participation from the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment here on the island of Oahu as well.
So really short of combat, this is about the most strenuous and realistic training environment that we can create, and the goal of all of it, as the boss there said, is to generate readiness for deployment in this theater, in the Indo-Pacific. Thank you.
MODERATOR: All right. Is Colonel Shaw with us? Okay.
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: We’re in contact with him on another line. I think he is finishing up another call and may dial in here shortly. But I think we can go to questions.
MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, General Jarrard and General VanAntwerp. So we will now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call. And the first question will be one submitted in advance. The first question goes to Tran Hoang from Zing News, Vietnam. “What are the main goals you are expected to achieve after the training? And given this training involving some Southeast Asia countries, how do you evaluate the defense cooperation among the United States and Indo-Pacific nations?”
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: General Jarrard, I’ll let you take the first take at it, sir.
Okay. This is Jeff VanAntwerp. So the main goals of the training, I’d say that it’s really twofold. The principal goal of this training exercise is to train our 2nd Brigade combat teams. So it’s focused – this is a tactical-level training exercise with the higher command being our division, and the goal is to complete – at the end of this training is to have a brigade that is ready for whatever contingency they may find here in the near future, whether that be crisis or combat. And along with that – and I alluded to this in kind of my opening – we know that we have a series of deployments right around the – right after the New Year, where we’ll be deploying this brigade forward into the Pacific as part of our Operation Pathways. And so we want to make sure that this brigade is as ready as they can possibly be.
To the second part of the question, how do we evaluate sort of our level of interoperability? The interoperability has really three main components. There’s a technical component, a procedural component, and a human component. And the great part about training exercises like this is you have an opportunity to get at all three of those.
In the process of building the interpersonal relationships with our partners here, principally in this exercise, the Thais, the Indonesians, and the Philippines, we also have the opportunity to build some of that technical and procedural interoperability as well as they come with different equipment, different communications systems than we do. They come with a different level of experiences, whether it be night vision or different types of weapons systems. And in the procedural, we all have different concepts by which we operate.
But we have opportunity in immersive exercises like this where you are immersed together in a scenario, in near-real-life conditions, to learn a lot about each other and you come out much more prepared on the other end. And by and large, sort of the larger component of that interoperability – an interesting thing, which probably wouldn’t surprise you: because we are Pacific-based, the 25th Infantry Division, we don’t do anything but operate in the Indo-Pacific. For example, the Indonesian company that’s here, we were just exercising with them at Operation Garuda Shield just a few months ago out in Indonesia, so it was king of a bit of old home week as those folks came here and met people that they already knew. Over.
COLONEL PHILLIPS: Hey, Katie, this is Colonel Rob Phillips over at USARPAC. We apologize. We got cut off but we’re back in the conversation now.
MODERATOR: Okay, great. General Jarrard and Colonel Phillips, did you want to add anything to that question?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Just yeah, I’ll add on just a little bit to what General VanAntwerp commented. I think we probably already mentioned it, but we have three participating nations. I know we covered that. But we also have nine observer countries, and those are some of our key allies and partners throughout the region that want to understand and see how we train, and potentially come next year when we execute this. We execute it on an annual basis, and so they may want to be a participating nation. And so we just see an increased interest in this capability and what we’re doing throughout the Pacific, and so that we think this is a very good way to continue to develop relationships with our allies and partners.
MODERATOR: Okay, wonderful. Our next question goes to Elvis Chang from NTDAPTV in Taiwan. Operator, please open the line.
QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. Generally, what do you think of the situation in the Taiwan Strait? And (inaudible) on military exercise help with deterrence in the strait?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Great, thank you. And I just – I guess the only thing I’ll say, and I’ll be brief, is that we do everything we can to work with our allies and partners to create a free and open Indo-Pacific. And a free and open Indo-Pacific means that there’s – it’s a peaceful environment. And so we are doing everything we can to prevent and deter tensions from escalating into a crisis or even a conflict. And so anybody that is doing anything that is escalatory, we would recommend they not do that so that we can maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. Thank you.
MODERATOR: All right. The next question goes to Will Glasgow from The Australian. Operator, please open the line.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) this year or in recent months is (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Will, you’re breaking up a little bit. Would you be able to start the question again?
QUESTION: I want to ask General Jarrard about how Beijing (inaudible) after Speaker Pelosi’s trip (inaudible) PLA communication with the U.S. (inaudible) had. I want to know what the consequence of that has been. I mean, you’re operating equipment and exercises in the region. There’s a lot going on here – this exercise, but just daily things. How has your communication with the PLA changed? I mean, has it since August or is that just rhetorical? Can you speak to that?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Yeah, I won’t comment about our current communication channels or that we have with the PLA. I just would say that we’re continuing to do the same things that we were doing before Speaker Pelosi’s trip, and that’s work very closely with our allies and partners to continue to help each other develop our capabilities and our skills and do everything we can for a free and open Indo-Pacific. And as I said before, we want peace and want to do everything we can to prevent a crisis or conflict. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Okay. The next question goes to Philip Heijmans from Bloomberg News in Singapore. Operator, please open the line.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I was hoping you might be able to discuss whether the U.S. is looking to expand its military footprint in the Philippines, whether there’s been any progress on that front. As I understand, there would be greater access for American troops under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement as a possibility. I wonder how close that might be to being finished, if that’s an ambition, and just overall what would be the U.S. ambitions for a military presence in the Philippines going forward. Thank you.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Thank you very much for the question. And I’ll start off by answering – well, not answering your question but making a comment and potentially making a – giving a segue to General VanAntwerp here in a minute after I do answer your question. But General VanAntwerp was a War College classmate of the current chief of army in the Philippines, Lieutenant General Brawner. And so he can speak to that relationship, but it just – it goes to show that the myriad of means that we have to develop relationships at some of our institutional schoolhouses that allow us to become friends and then use that friendship to further both ours and the Philippines’ efforts into the future.
So the Philippines is key terrain, obviously. It’s right on the edge of the first island chain there, and so we – there are places that we’d like to train and develop closer relationships with our Philippine army counterparts. And that’s true of the entire joint force, not just the Army, but some of the other services as well. And so we are continuously working with our Philippine counterparts to explore opportunities, and we definitely would like to do that and deepen them, and – but I won’t – I’ll stay out of specifics right now, but we just had the delegation from the Philippines here for discussions with INDOPACOM and all of the components. The chief of defense there brought all of the service chiefs from the various services with him, and a good round of discussions here in Oahu about all of the things that we would like to collaborate on going forward.
Jeff, any other comments?
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: None other than I know the only reason that you’ve highlighted this is because General Brawner is now a three-star general and in charge of his army, and I am but a lowly brigadier general only recently promoted. So thank you.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: You’re welcome. Back to you, Katie.
MODERATOR: Next we will do another question that was received in advance. This question is from Christopher Woody of Insider in Washington, D.C. “How does this training rotation and other recent multinational exercises, such as the expanded Super Garuda Shield, fit into the U.S. Defense Department’s integrated deterrence framework?”
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Thank you. I’ll start off and try to cover the strategic and operational level, and then allow Jeff to comment at the tactical level. But we have to – as we think about integrated deterrence, our – one of our biggest advantages is our allies and partners, and the friends that we have around the world but specifically here in the Indo-Pacific that all cherish the same values and work very hard to create a free and open Indo-Pacific that allows each country to continue their path based on their own sovereign interest. And so we can do that because of the free and open Indo-Pacific, but that’s only because our services are working together and continuing to build those capabilities, the security capabilities that will allow that to perpetuate into the future.
So it is a key – continuing to develop those relationships is a key part of integrated deterrence at both the strategic and the operational level.
Jeff, any thoughts at the tactical level?
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: Yes, sir. I think as you mentioned, there was Super Garuda Shield. I think what you’ll see in upcoming iterations of Operation Pathways and our exercises west of the International Date Line is sort of similar trends where we add more joint partners, we add more multinational partners. That’s really the reality. We find if we’re just training army to army with another army, that is good – it’s good towards developing that kind of combined interoperability that we talked about a little bit earlier – but the reality is unless you’re doing it joint, unless you’re doing it multinational, you’re just not going to be successful. And so our interest is in taking a lot of these exercises, and if our partners are interested and we want to work together and grow those exercises to ones where we’re working in a multinational way and in a joint way, that’s absolutely where we’d like to go.
MODERATOR: All right. The next question goes to Dzirhan Mahadzir from USNI News in Malaysia. Operator, please open the line.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for the call. I just wanted to ask, can you give us some specific details on what you will be doing with the multinational partners at this exercise and what will be the participation of the Marine Corps in this with the littoral regiment? What will be the – will they be doing specifically? And as a final question, what is ARPAC – what are ARPAC’s activities for the upcoming Keen Sword exercise in Japan? Thank you.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Jeff, I’ll let you go ahead and answer the first two.
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: Okay, sir. Sounds good. Yeah, so the partners – as I mentioned, we’ve got three separate companies from Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The way we’ve tasked and organized those companies, they’re each infantry companies and so under this brigade, which is led by a colonel, they have three battalions: two infantry battalions and a reconnaissance battalion. And we have provided one of those companies the task of organizing into each of those battalions. And they have had about 10 days now to conduct training together with these specific units, and as we deploy them into the box, as we call it, they are going to operate just like our companies do, and they’ll receive tasks to go get after the enemy just like our companies do. And those companies, just from sort of a geography perspective, we’ll have two of them on the island of Oahu here and then another on the Big Island a hundred-plus miles away.
So that’s what the partners will be doing. We do have additional partners, as General Jarrard mentioned, who have come and that will be embedded at the staff level, so at the battalion level, and then some who will be observing the backside, so how we kind of run the exercise and our exercise control.
As far as the Marine Littoral Regiment, the Marine Littoral Regiment is doing what it envisioned doing, what we the joint force would envision them doing in their role, just as we’d expect in a conflict. They are currently forward deployed with multiple sensing and firing, advanced expeditionary bases, and they are going to open up air corridors and sea lanes to allow our forces during the remainder of the joint force to move into this operational area. Over.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: And I’ll – hey, thanks, Jeff, and I’ll talk about Keen Sword just briefly. But that is primarily a United States Navy and United States Marine Corps exercise, but we do have – the Army is participating with our Multi-Domain Task Force. And so that is normally a field training exercise that’s conducted in Japan, and this one we’re going to be participating in the southwest islands of Japan with some of our key capabilities. So we’re looking forward to that, and the Japanese are a great partner. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Our next question goes to David Santos of CNN in the Philippines. Operator, please open the line.
QUESTION: Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity. I would like to ask the general, the Philippine army, as perceived here in our country as a land-based form, has focused mostly on its operations on counterinsurgency, addressing local insurgent groups for the past several years. But as Manila shifts its security (inaudible) but is inclined to shift its security priorities to maritime and territorial defense, which primarily are tasked to the Philippine navy and even the Philippine air force since we are an archipelagic nation.
What kind of training and assisting or advising are you engaging with the Philippine army so it keeps or it maintains its relevance in our nation’s defense, especially since it is also – it also has the biggest number of troops?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Thank you very much for your question. And so I’ll cover the higher points and then ask Jeff if he can talk about some of the specifics at the tactical level. But I think that the majority of forces around the region, the majority of military forces around the region, are armies. And just like you articulated, that’s no different from the Philippines to India to the – Australia and other of the locations around the region. And the reason for that I think predominantly is because everybody is concerned about the security of their sovereign territory. And we have to defend that territory, and we do that through our security forces, and a lot of that is our armies.
And so that is – because of that, we all need to be able to work together no matter what the crisis is, whether it’s a humanitarian crisis, with a cyclone or a disaster response, that’s on the low end. On the upper end it could be a military crisis. But we’ve got to be able to work together, and to be able to work together we’ve got to be able, as Jeff talked about earlier, it’s the processes and the equipment. We have to understand how we each other operate, and we have to have equipment that allows us to communicate back and forth.
And so that is what we need to work on every time we get together with our allies and partners so that we can do that better. We still have areas that we do not do that well, even though we’ve been doing this a long time, and so we’ve got to continually to improve so that when we are required to work together, we can do it at an effective level.
And I’ll pass it over to Jeff for any other thoughts.
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: Yes, sir. I think the Philippines actually provides a pretty great model for us in the Army where we’ve got Salaknib, which is an army-to-army bilateral exercise where we’ll typically work on a lot of sort of small unit tactics up to the battalion level, so larger collective training incorporating all of our combined arms systems within the Army. And then that exercise leads into Balikatan, a joint exercise.
We’ll take those Army components that we’ve been working and we’ll combine them with the joint force. And in those exercises we focus on the things you were talking about there. We start talking territorial defense, the ability to maintain awareness of and an understanding of what’s going on around you – intelligence collection. We, the Army – we do that, and we do that in the maritime domain in the waters in and around the land as well. Targeting – we in the Army, we do that. We do a lot of targeting. Force projection, the ability to move your force rapidly when you do know something’s happening – and every time we come on one of these exercises we bring a good portion of our rotary wing, to include attack aviation, heavy lift and light lift helicopters, and then air defense, of course, the ability to defend ourselves.
So we are focused, as you’d expect, on the very tactical level. That level of interoperability is really important. But the real key is building on that and being able to get to the collective, which we’re able to do each year there in the Philippines.
MODERATOR: All right, we only have time for one last question, and it goes to Hope Ngo of the International Radio Taiwan. Operator, please open the line.
QUESTION: Good morning. Has Taiwan’s potential presence as an observer been confirmed or ruled out for the first round of these exercises? And if not, will Taiwan’s participation be expected in the future? Thank you.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Hey, thank you for the question. So – and I will – unfortunately, I won’t comment on that question but just say that we’re continuing to provide assistance to Taiwan just like we’ve done previously and want to make sure that we are doing what we can to help them maintain the status quo, just as our senior civilian leaders have directed us to. Thank you.
MODERATOR: And now, General Jarrard, if you have any closing remarks, I’ll turn it back over to you.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JARRARD: Great, thank you. Just to say that it is a great event that we’ve got planned here over the next few weeks, and I’m very proud of all that we’re going to be able to accomplish not only with the team that’s up at Schofield Barracks and the 25th Infantry Division but with all of our key allies and partners that are here participating and observing as we deepen those relationships. So thank you.
MODERATOR: Great. General VanAntwerp, was there anything else you wanted to add?
BRIGADIER GENERAL VANANTWERP: No, ma’am. Thank you very much. Really appreciate everyone’s time and dialing in. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Great. Well, that concludes today’s call. I would like to thank General Jarrard and General VanAntwerp for joining us and thank all of our callers for participating. If you have any questions about today’s call, you can contact the Asia Pacific Media Hub at AsiaPacMedia@state.gov. Information on how to access the recording of this call will be provided by AT&T shortly. Thank you and have a great day.