WASHINGTON ― U.S. Army commanders overseeing forces in the Indo-Pacific outlined on Monday their work with allies and partners in the region to sustain the supply lines that allow the service to maintain forces throughout the broad, diffuse area.
“This mesh network of friends, partners and allies helps us to accomplish the things that the Army needs to have done,” Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, who commands the Army’s I Corps, said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. “One of those things is we’ve got to build interior lines.”
Brunson oversees Operation Pathways, which focuses on collaborating with regional partners like Japan, South Korea and Australia to expand and sustain the U.S. Army’s role in the Pacific through a series of military exercises. He noted I Corps spends eight to 10 months of the year in the Pacific campaigning — a term that describes the ongoing rotation of forces throughout the region to maintain readiness in the event of a conflict.
The Biden administration in recent years has focused on bolstering U.S. force posture throughout the Pacific with the aim of deterring China via a series of exercises and basing agreements with countries such as the Philippines.
“I would say Operation Pathways this year was unique from a logistics perspective,” said Maj. Gen. Jered Helwig, the head of the Army’s 8th Theater Sustainment Command, based out of Hawaii.
“When you take all of those exercise and look at it holistically from a logistics and sustainment perspective, then your sustainment as a warfighting function, your logistics as a warfighting function, is able to actualize and pull on all those threads that are required to really get after the learning objectives,” Helwig added.
The two-star noted that keeping Army equipment in places like Australia allows the force to maintain a presence in the Pacific. The country would serve as a useful starting point if a conflict were to erupt in the region.
“As logisticians, we need to be successful and to understand the theater and to really set conditions for those joint interior lines,” Helwig said, “and build out that architecture that we know that, if we don’t rehearse in competition, will be very difficult to execute in crisis.”
The multilateral military cooperation also extends to other readiness areas, such as blood sharing.
“We’ve got a range, a range of things that we’re doing with blood, from research and development with blood products, to blood sharing agreements with our partners,” said Maj. Gen. Paula Lodi, the head of the Army’s 18th Medical Command.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.