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    Decisive Point Podcast – Ep 3-44 – MAJ John T. Pelham IV – Security Force Assistance Brigades and US Indo-Pacific Command Multi-domain Competition

    Decisive Point Podcast – Ep 3-44 – MAJ John T. Pelham IV – Security Force Assistance Brigades and US Indo-Pacific Command Multi-domain Competition

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    UNITED STATES

    12.20.2022

    Audio by Kristen Taylor 

    U.S. Army War College Public Affairs

    Security force assistance brigades can enable multi-domain convergence in competition in the US Indo-Pacific Command. Rather than focusing on conventional Joint force capabilities, this podcast analyzes recent US Army operational experience in security force assistance and security cooperation in US Indo-Pacific Command and identifies capability gaps and opportunities for competition. Finally, military leadership and policymakers will find recommendations on how US Army security force assistance and security cooperation can shape environments and deter conflict in the US Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.

    Read the article: https://press.armywarcollege.edu/parameters/vol52/iss4/11/

    Episode transcript: Security Force Assistance Brigades and US Indo-Pacific Command Multi-domain Competition
    Stephanie Crider (Host)

    You’re listening to Decisive Point, a US Army War College Press production focused on national security affairs.

    The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army, the US Army War College, or any other agency of the US government.

    Decisive Point welcomes Major John T Pelham IV, author of “Security Force Assistance Brigades and US Indo-Pacific Command Multi-domain Competition,” which was featured in the winter 2022–23 issue of Parameters.

    Pelham is an armor officer currently serving as Deputy Chief 5 for the First Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. His Master of Military Arts and Science thesis, “Examining the Security Force Assistance Brigade’s Role in Future Army Strategic Deterrence,” was published by the Institute of Land Warfare in September 2021. His article “Examining Capability Gaps in the SFAB Cavalry Squadron” was published in the July 2021 issue of the Cavalry and Armor Journal.

    Welcome to Decisive Point. I’m really glad you’re here.

    Major John T. Pelham IV

    Well, thank you for having me.

    Host

    You take a step back in your article from Joint force capabilities and focus instead on analyzing recent US Army operational experience and security force assistance and security cooperation in US Indo-Pacific commands. What problem in the Indo-Pacific does your article address?

    Pelham

    I think it’s a couple of problems ma’am. First of all, I think it’s how do we compete with the pacing threat as outlined in the interim National Security Strategy and the recently published National Security Strategy in terms of how do we compete with China and other adversaries in Indo-Pacific Theater—preferably below the level of armed conflict? Moreover, how do we as an army contribute to the Joint force in a theater that is roundly dominated by the air and maritime domains?

    This project actually came about from a conversation with Brigadier General Lombardo of Army G 3 5 7 Training. When I was writing my SAMS monograph, I had written my Master of Military Arts and Science thesis on the role of the SFAB and future Army strategic deterrence. And from that conversation, he said, “You know what I would be interested to know is what is the Army’s contribution to multi-domain competition, particularly in the Pacific theater?”

    And that stems also from a conversation I had with the Chief of Armor, in a Q&A session with him. I said, “You know, hey, sir, what do you feel is the armor branch’s role in the Indo-Pacific given the physical constraints of that domain for land force, particularly heavy mechanized forces?”

    And he said something to the effect of, well, most of our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific Theater, they have armies, and most of those armies have a competent mechanized component. That is where the armor branch can make its contribution because even if it’s not our armor that is serving as a flexible deterrent or enabling competition in the theater below the level of armed conflict, we can leverage our expertise and our ability to work by, with, and through those allies and partners. And that’s what got me thinking as an SFAB advisor, then what contribution might the SFAB offer in helping the Army do that beyond mechanized forces or land forces—but really, for the entire Joint force across all domains?

    Host

    You suggest the US Army reexamine its role in the region. What would that look like?

    Pelham

    I think this is a question that the Army has really been analyzing, especially in-depth ever since the “Pacific pivot” between 2012 and 2014 under the Obama administration with Secretary of State Clinton, in which the strategic focus of United States was beginning to shift from the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and CENTCOM, in which the Army was the supported force, to a completely different theater with a completely different threat, in which the Army, (under most circumstances) would act as the supporting force as opposed to the supported force.

    And now, obviously, the Army has some enduring and very clear contributions and responsibilities in terms of sustainment via Army support to other services via its executive agent responsibilities. Obviously, the Army fires enterprise figures prominently into the Joint Fires capabilities that the INDOPACOM commander can bring to bear in the theater and also contributions with theater, air, and missile defense—and then also the conventional, regionally aligned forces that we provide to the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere. But what these advisor forces allow us to do is really bring to bear the full multi-domain capabilities that already exist there in the region that are inherent in the allies and partners. Which, again,it optimizes what the Army can do for the Joint force in that theater, in which more often than not, they are going to be the supporting arm as opposed to the supported service.

    Host

    Pull it all together for us. How can the Army make full use of Security Force Assistance Brigade capabilities?

    Pelham

    I think, ma’am, they need to expand the paradigm beyond just simply using the SFABs as a tactical-level advising force to allied and partnered land components. I know that the images are popular of SFAB advisers conducting live-fire training with allies and partners with enabling joint multinational exercises. And these things are all vitally important, both in terms of demonstrating our commitment to allies and partners but also in demonstrating our resolve to our adversaries. But I think that they have so much more potential to offer in terms of operational-level and even strategic-level outcomes, as well, because they’ve got the ability to embed with allies and partners in a way that creates an enduring presence within enemy A2/AD networks that negates the need to penetrate those networks in a conventional fashion oftentimes. But they serve, again, as the hub that connects those multinational partners to the overall joint force to allow command and control beyond just the formal command-and-control hierarchy, whether that be a lead nation. Whether it be a parallel coalition structure, what have you, but also to integrate the multi-domain capabilities that those allies and partners have as well. Because they don’t just have to be embedded with the land component. They could be augmented and embedded with allied partners’ cyber capabilities. They could be embedded with air component, maritime component. Because they don’t necessarily have to be subject matter experts in that, as long as they’re properly augmented, but either way, due to the fact that they are natural and doctrinally trained LNOs, they still serve as the connective tissue, or that hub, that can tie those capabilities and those organizations back to the Joint force commander.

    Host

    Give us your final thoughts on it.

    Pelham

    I am not offering up this thesis as a cure all or a one-size fits all solution. I’m just merely offering these thoughts as a suggestion to the Army at the institutional level, and really, the Joint force overall as a way to really maximize the Army’s contribution to multi domain competition. And in the Indo Pacific theater, ma’am.

    Host

    Thank you.

    Pelham

    Thank you ma’am.

    Host

    If you enjoyed this topic and would like to learn more, read the article at press.armywarcollege.edu/parameters. Look for volume 52, issue 4.

    If you enjoyed this episode of Decisive Point and would like to hear more, you can find us on any major podcast platform.

    About the author: Major John T. Pelham IV is an Armor officer currently serving as deputy G5 for the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. His master of military arts and science thesis, “Examining the Security Force Assistance Brigade’s Role in Future Army Strategic Deterrence,” was published by the Institute of Land Warfare in September 2021. His article “Examining Capability Gaps in the SFAB Cavalry Squadron” was published in the July 2021 edition of the Cavalry and Armor Journal.

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    AUDIO INFO

    Date Taken: 12.20.2022
    Date Posted: 06.20.2023 15:08
    Category: Newscasts
    Audio ID: 74958
    Filename: 2306/DOD_109718221.mp3
    Length: 00:07:30
    Artist US Army War College Press
    Album Decisive Point – Season 3
    Track # 44
    Year 2022
    Genre Podcast
    Location: US

    Web Views: 7
    Downloads: 0
    High-Res. Downloads: 0

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