Indo-Pacific View

P. S. Davidson Admiral, U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Indo-Pacific Defense FORUM’s first quarter edition of 2019, which highlights unity of effort among militaries, security forces, and related government and civilian organizations.

Complex missions and multidimensional warfare, such as efforts to combat cyber threats, weapons of mass destruction, and transnational crime, remain priorities across the Indo-Pacific. Multinational engagements and exercises are critical to overcoming challenges ranging from information sharing to managing competing priorities and differences in doctrine and equipment, as well as differences in language and military lexicon. 

Because militaries don’t always take the lead in stability or emergency operations, effective communication is key to achieving unity of effort and reducing duplication of work. This edition of FORUM delves into the intricacies of maintaining open lines of communication among civilian-military operators and understanding each other’s capabilities and limitations. Humanitarian agencies, for example, often respond first in many disaster relief situations. Their knowledge of different militaries’ capabilities results in saving as many lives as possible and relieving suffering as quickly as possible.

Our cover article features Australian National University’s Dr. David Brewster’s exploration of mounting competition between India and China for naval dominance in the Indian Ocean region.

North Korea continues to present unique opportunities as the United States and others pressure and work with leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize. For this edition of FORUM, retired Republic of Korea Army Lt. Gen. In-Bum Chun addresses some of the complicated cultural challenges in the negotiations that the U.S., South Korea and others interested in a peaceful Korean Peninsula are conducting with the North. 

This issue shines a light on Southeast Asia through a question-and-answer feature with Rear Adm. Nuttapong Ketsumboon, director of the Peace Operations Center for the Royal Thai Armed Forces. He spoke with FORUM about Thailand’s commitment to international peacekeeping following the multinational military exercise Cobra Gold 2018, which Thailand and the United States co-hosted. 

Elsewhere, Russia’s presence has added to an already intense competition for power and persuasion in the Indo-Pacific. Russia’s impact can be felt as President Vladimir Putin extends his imprint on the region. This issue explores Russian exploits to grab power and highlights efforts already in place by the United States that could dampen Russia’s regional aspirations. 

I hope this edition creates additional dialogue within ongoing discussions on unity of effort and sparks new ideas. As always, I welcome your comments and invite you to contact the FORUM staff at ipdf@ipdefenseforum.com with your perspectives.

All the best,

P. S. Davidson

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command