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Staff-to-Staff talks focus on operations in the Indo-Pacific, ensuring a free and open region

Sailors man the rails as the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, returns to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, following its deployment to the western Pacific ocean, Dec. 16.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) leaders met to better align operational plans in support of the National Defense Strategy during staff-to-staff talks Jan. 24-25, in Hawaii.

The two combatant commands addressed the challenges of operating throughout the vast Pacific region and how to integrate complex logistics efforts into operations that deter conflict and support a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The tyranny of distance poses many challenges,” said Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, USTRANSCOM commander. “The oceans are vast, and crises — whether human-made or natural — can occur with little warning. We must be ready to respond at a moment’s notice — ready to deliver hope or lethality on behalf of our nation, partners, and allies.”

U.S. Air Force Airmen prepare to off-load fuel from a C-130J Super Hercules July 21, 2021, at Tinian International Airport, Tinian, during Pacific Iron 2021. Pacific Iron 2021 is a Pacific Air Forces dynamic force employment operation to project forces into USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility in support of the 2018 National Defense Strategy which called on the military to be a more lethal, adaptive and resilient force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

USTRANSCOM will also be taking part in joint and multinational exercises throughout the Indo-Pacific this year.

“Through the Globally Integrated Exercise, Pacific Sentry, Air Mobility Command’s Mobility Guardian ’23, and other combined exercises, we will close operational gaps to strengthen deterrence and develop new concepts to support Indo-Pacific Command’s missions,” Van Ovost said.

Despite advances in space-spanning technologies, USINDOPACOM Commander Navy Adm. John Aquilino noted that distance “will remain a daunting challenge.”

“How materiel travels from the factory to the front lines is one of our primary considerations,” Aquilino said. “And TRANSCOM provides us that advantage—the ability to quickly project and sustain joint combat power at the speeds, distances, and scales at the time and place of our nation’s choosing.”

U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, prepares to refuel a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 14th Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan, over the Pacific Ocean, during exercise Cope North 2022, Feb. 10, 2022. Cope North is a trilateral exercise bringing American, Australian and Japanese forces together to test capabilities, enhance readiness skills and improve interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lotz)

Since 85% of American forces are based in the continental United States, Van Ovost also noted that the need for modern and capable transportation systems, infrastructure and platforms are critical in a contested environment.

“The timing, tempo, and scale of a potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific means USTRANSCOM must focus on evolving its strategic advantage, particularly to improve command and control of global logistics and integration with the Joint Force,” she said. “We derive our strength from the interconnection of our capabilities, the resilience of our global network, and the dedication of our people. This is the strategic advantage we must and will evolve.”

USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, TRANSCOM underwrites the lethality of the Joint Force, advances American interests around the globe, and provides our nation’s leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options while creating numerous dilemmas for our adversaries.

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