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Navy BD Series Part 10: INDOPACOM

The Indo-Pacific region stretches from our Pacific coastline to the India Ocean. It is home to more than half of the world’s people, nearly two-thirds of the world’s economy, and seven of the world’s largest militaries. It supports more than three million American jobs and is the source of nearly $900 billion in foreign direct investment in the United States. It is a vital part of not only the United States’ security and prosperity, but that of many other countries in the region.

China has ramped up its presence in the Pacific over the last couple of years, threatening a free and open Indo-Pacific. As a result, the Department of Defense (DoD) and United States Navy (USN) have increased focus on building up support in the Indo-Pacific region in several ways.

Last year, the White House released its Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States which focuses around the mission that the world depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific. To do so, the United States and our strategic partners will focus on five objectives:

  • Advance a free and open Indo-Pacific. This involves supporting open societies, democratic institutions, free press, freedom of information, combating misinformation, and exposing corruption through diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance, and work with regional organizations.

  • Build connections within and beyond the region. This starts with our five regional treaty alliances – with Australia, Japan, the ROK, the Philippines, and Thailand – and strengthening relationships with leading regional partners – India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Pacific Islands in global health, climate change, critical and emerging technology, infrastructure, cyber, education, and clean energy.

  • Drive regional prosperity. Prosperity in the region makes every partner stronger through investments in innovation, economic competition, good-paying jobs, strong supply chains, and economic opportunities for middle-class families.

  • Bolster Indo-Pacific security. A main focus of this will be through Integrated deterrence (More details in the section below) – integrating efforts across warfighting domains, pushing for innovation, working with our network of allies and partnerships, and expanding the U.S. Coast Guard presence and training.

  • Build regional resilience to transitional threats. The Indo-Pacific is the epicenter for many of the effects of the climate crisis, with 70% of the world’s natural disasters occurring in the region. The United States and its partners must work on limiting global temperature increases through initiatives like Clean EDGE, renewable energy, and climate-aligned infrastructure investment.

The cover of a report with Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States written in large blue letters
Source: Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States, February 2022

Integrated Deterrence

The Untied States focuses on a strategy of integrated deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.

One way is through the DOD’s investment in critical capabilities in the region. These investments focus on strengthening our warfighting advantages and addressing critical challenges with key partners.

Strengthening Our Warfighting Advantages

How the Department of Defense is strengthening our warfighting advantages is outlined in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) for the DOD Budget FY 2024 that was released in March of this year.

The PDI requested $9.1 billion in targeted investments for six categories. While it includes funding for the Department of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Defense-wide, we’ll focus on the Department of the Navy:

  • Modernization and strengthening presence – $2,912.7 million

    • Department of the Navy – Marine Corps’ Stand-in Forces (SIF), III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) which supports its Training and Exercise Employment Programing, maintenance, logistics, repairs, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Marine Corps Flying Hour Program, Joint Intelligence Operations Center (provides all source intelligence in USINDOPACOM’s Area of Responsibility), USINDOPACOM’s Cyberspace Activities

  • Improved logistics, maintenance capabilities, and prepositioning of equipment, munitions, fuel, and material - $1,102.0 million

    • Department of the Navy – Fleet Marine Forces Pacific Afloat Prepositioning TEEP, Exercises such as FREEDOM BANNER, BALIKATAN, and COBRA GOLD, and USINDOPACOM headquarters staff, travel, supplies, and training

  • Exercises, training, experimentation, and innovation - $2,069.1 million

    • Department of the Navy – USINDOPACOM Combatant Commander’s core operations headquarters staff, including personnel, travel, supplies, and training, support for Fleet Marine Forces Pacific training exercises and unit readiness, RDT&E for PMETEC, C4I, upgraded Marine Corps Installation Pacific range control facilities, improve Marine Corps Base Hawaii telecommunications infrastructure, and procure a Common Aviation Command and Control Systems simulator

  • Infrastructure improvements to enhance responsiveness and resiliency of U.S. forces - $2,375.5 million

    • Department of the Navy – Marine Corps construction projects at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin and Guam, Aerial Port of Debarkation and Seaport of Debarkation posture locations

  • Building the defense and security capabilities, capacity and cooperation of allies and partners - $474.5 million

    • Department of the Navy – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) support for the Special Operations Command Pacific within the Philippines, and Joint Intelligence Operation Center

  • Improved capabilities available to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (Joint and Enabling Headquarters Capabilities) - $126.3 million

    • Department of the Navy – Operation and administration of the USINDOPACOM Combatant Commander’s core operations headquarters staff

Addressing Critical Challenges with Key Partners

Foreign Military Sales (FMS) also play a very important part of working with our Key Allies and Partners in the INDOPACOM Area of Responsibility (AOR). In March 2023, the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) worked out a Defense Industrial Partnership to supply Australia with conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) as soon as possible.

Training exercises with key partners occur throughout the year, with the most recent being Exercise Vigilant Defense. More than 25 types of fighters, cargo, tanker, and reconnaissance aircraft from the U.S., South Korean, and Australian Air Forces conducted flight operations across the Korean peninsula.

A new key partner is with Papua New Guinea. In May, the U.S. and Papua New Guinea committed to cooperate on security and this was highlighted with a recent trip by Defense Secretary Austin’s visit.

Several U.S. Navy ships sailing at sea.
Source: The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, steams in formation with the USS Antietam and two Japanese ships in the Philippine Sea, Oct. 4, 2023. The Antietam is a Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser.

What does that mean for defense contractors wanting to work with the Navy?

A lot of new opportunities will be coming out in support of the INDOPACOM AOR – INDOPACOM, COMPACFLT, NCTAMS PAC, NAVWAR and NIWC Pacific, etc.

Interested in learning more about Indo-Pacific defense issues? AFCEA TechNet Into-Pacific starts tomorrow through Thursday in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is the largest event in the Pacific focused on military and government leaders coming together to focus on the region’s unique requirements and solutions.



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