In a written statement, Marine Corps headquarters
noted that while the military has conducted these
kinds of international engagements for decades, the
increased pace is in response to the January 2012
Defense Strategic Guidance, which directed the
Defense Department to “develop innovative, low-cost,
and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security
objectives, relying on exercises, rotational presence,
and advisory capabilities.”
The maritime services, headquarters said, “are
uniquely capable of using the sea and waterways as
maneuver space and of providing combatant com-
manders with persistent, self-sustaining, sea-based
forces to meet the full spectrum of security coopera-
tion and building partnership capacity requirements.
“This policy is particularly germane and timely
within this fiscal environment,” the statement said.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus highlighted the policy in
his Jan. 14 speech at the Surface Navy Association
National Symposium in Arlington, Va.
America’s naval forces long have protected the maritime commons, which are crucial to the world economy, Mabus said.
“But we can’t do it alone,” he added, noting the
Navy-Marine Corps team’s “long history of relationships” around the globe.
The strategy, Mabus said, “is to
develop these partnerships in
small, inexpensive ways.”
The effort to build partnerships
and improve the military capability
of partner nations is particularly
important in the Asia-Pacific
region, due to America’s vital and
growing economic ties to the region
and the unpredictable nature of
China’s surging military strength.
“Multilateral cooperation with
partners is an important component of America’s strategic rebalance to the Pacific,” said ADM
Harry B. Harris Jr., commander,
U.S. Pacific Fleet.
In a column in the Jan. 21st
Singapore Strait Times, Harris said:
“The rebalance recognizes that
U.S. security and economic pros-
perity are intertwined with the
peaceful development of East Asia.
America has a national interest
here: neither revanchist nor impe-
rial, but rather in fostering security,
stability and prosperity.”
That was echoed by Pasnik, who
noted that “the U.S. military has maintained a posture in
the Pacific since World War II, and the Marine Corps
has been a part of that. Because of our ability to support
partners with forward-deployed forces, we have had a
lot of routine engagements with other countries, focus-
ing on allies, but partners as well.
“That contributed to a general amount of stability,”
The Marines’ contribution to developing partner
nation capacity “depends on where that partner is,
what they desire,” Pasnik said.
MARFORPAC’s exercises and engagements span the
spectrum of combat skills, complexity and size. And
they stretch from California, with Dawn Blitz, a large
amphibious exercise that last year included Japan; to
Tafakula, a platoon-size training event on the island of
Tonga; all the way to Golden Steppe, an extended program to help the Mongolian Armed Forces shift from a
“Russian military model” to a western-style military,
according to a command fact sheet.
Most of the engagements are with established allies,
such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines,
Thailand and New Zealand. But increasingly they are
with new partners, such as India, Singapore, Cambodia, Brunei, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Vietnam, a former enemy.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014
A Marine with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Africa
13. 3 observes and instructs Uganda People’s Defense Force Soldiers during
the practical application aspect of training aboard Camp Singo, Uganda, Aug.
5. Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa helps Marine Forces Africa and U.S. Africa
Command assist partner nations by conducting security force assistance and