Video Above: Lieutenant General, Thomas Todd - Chief Innovation Officer of Army Futures Command sits down for an exclusive interview with Kris Osborn.
By Kris Osborn President, Center for Military Modernization
(Washington D.C.) Lingering just beneath the surface of the US Army’s massive focus on innovation and land war modernization as it relates to the European continent and the threat posed by Russia, there is a distinct and sharply focused service initiative to explore new technologies and tactics of specific relevance to the Pacific.
Army’s Physical “Presence” in the Pacific
The Army’s actual physical “presence” in the Pacific is far more substantial than many may realize, given its ongoing roles in South Korea, Japan, Hawaii, Guam and Australia. Force positioning and Pacific theater deployments have figured prominently over the years, in large measure to fortify the US deterrence posture and raise the prospect that any Chinese act of aggression will be met by a massive, multinational land force capable of major force-on-force mechanized conflict.
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However, alongside land war deterrence aimed at China and North Korea, the Army’s Pacific focus has increasingly taken on much more of a multi-domain focus to include Pacific Theater Air-Ground Task Force training with the Air Force and preparations for Sea-Land operations with the Navy.
“We are looking at a maritime scenario in which there are non-contiguous lines of supply. There are all kinds of island issues and rains and geometry issues in that theater. It's a whole different equation where the Army has a role to play. You can look at history and see that the Army had a large number of soldiers in World War II in the Pacific,” Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, Chief of Innovation, Army Futures Command, told Warrior in an interview.
For instance, throughout the years of ongoing tensions with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the US Army has practiced firing artillery from Navy surface ships, landing Army helicopters on Navy warships and adjusting tactics and maneuvers to enable ground-fired weapons to attack targets at sea. All of these things are key parts of the Army’s overall contribution to the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control environment in which all services operate within a common interface to enable multi-domain, joint, real-time networking, targeting and sensor-to-shooter pairing across a vast area of ocean and island territory. Todd explained that the Army’s experience securing supply lines, transportation and equipment has been drawn upon to adapt to a maritime warfare environment wherein different methods of logistics security will be needed.
“We obviously play a huge role in contested logistics on land. We take that role very seriously. We are going to not only get things to the front lines but also distribute them because our troops will operate in a much more dispersed manner in the future,” Todd said.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.