During World War II, the United States Army engaged in a island-hopping campaign across the Pacific, and it involved unprecedented cooperation between the services. Seventy-five years after the end of the war and the victory over Japan, the military is once again considering how a future conflict would require a slow, drawn-out campaign of sheep-hopping or island-hopping across the vast Pacific region.

This time it is not the Empire of Japan that the US military would face, but instead the most likely adversary would be the People’s Republic of China, which could promise to be a much more serious enemy.

For this reason, U.S. Army units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord worked with U.S. Air Force partners in joint operations in the Aleutian Islands, which were only part of the Defender Pacific exercises. 20, which aimed to demonstrate strategic readiness by deploying credible forces across the Indo-Pacific theater of operations contributing to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Like Forbes.com reported that these scattered events may not seem like a lot, but put together they are practice for a military-led island-hopping campaign. Annual US military war games cost around $300 million and involve tens of thousands of soldiers and airmen.

Progressive operation

In total, Defender Pacific 20 included communication and collaboration with forces in Guam, Palau, Hawaii, Washington, Alaska and other parts of the Pacific Rim. It is also about bringing experience to the units so that they can work better together when called upon to do so.

The joint exercises began in California, where the California National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division “overran” Camp San Luis Obispo last month.

The second phase of Defender Pacific 20 then involved the First Army Corps and the 7th Infantry Division, using their Tactical Operations Centers to provide command and control for joint forcible entry exercises across the Alaska. Additionally, paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, “Spartan Brigade”, executed a joint forced entry operation at Donnelly Training Area, Alaska.

Spartan paratroopers have arrived US Air Force C-17 and C-130J aircraft flew the full length of the Aleutian Islands before returning to central Alaska where they jumped out early in the morning and conducted an airfield seizure exercise.

“This exercise demonstrates both the ability and readiness of our Spartan paratroopers to provide a flexible option to the combatant commander,” said Colonel Christopher Landers, Commander of the Spartan Brigade. “On short notice, our paratroopers showed they could coordinate with our brother service partners to seize terrain hundreds of miles away.”

“Defender Pacific also enhances total Army readiness through the participation of U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard forces,” said Maj. Gen. Laura L. Yeager, commanding general of the 40th Infantry Division. “The scope and complexity of this exercise, combined with the vast distances we must cover to perform command and control, allows us to learn valuable lessons and be better in times of crisis.”

Earlier this month, the US military also deployed its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to Alaska. The “Thunderbolts” with the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade arrived at Eareckson Air Base on Shemya Island.

This part of the exercise focused on expeditionary deployment operations through M142 HIMARS Rapid Infiltration Training, which enhances aircrew combat readiness and rapid precision strike capability by rapidly preparing and mobilizing the artillery platform. The drills further validate the crew’s long-range communication skills and abilities.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to over four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A gallery of military hairstyleswhich is available on Amazon.com.

Image: Reuters

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