Army Not Trying to Muscle In on Marine Corps' Mission in the Pacific, General Says

Marines wpatrol during Exercise Talisman Saber 17.
Marines with India Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, patrol during Exercise Talisman Saber 17 in Freshwater Beach, Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Australia, July 19, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Amaia Unanue)

The Army is planning to play a major role in the Indo-Pacific, but the service will not try to muscle in on the Marine Corps' mission if war comes to the region, Army leaders said Tuesday.

"We are the largest ground force, so if there is a fight on land, we will be the one to participate in that," Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, told an audience at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event looking at how the service is transforming to meet the demands of the Indo-Pacific theater.

U.S. Army Pacific has up to 77,000 soldiers it can bring to bear in the event of a possible conflict with China.

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The Army is developing two Multi-Domain Task Forces for the region to defeat an enemy's anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, capabilities. Each task force will have experts specializing in intelligence, information, cyber, electronic warfare and space to launch precision fires and other long-range attacks against an adversary.

Critics have questioned whether the Army's activities conflict with the Marine Corps' plans for the region, which involve seizing important islands by force to allow Marine shore units to engage enemy shipping with long-range High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS.

But Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said his service has no intention of competing or interfering with Marine Corps operations in the region, adding that he is in regular talks with Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger to coordinate joint operations.

"The Marine Corps is an expeditionary force, maritime focused, that can operate very quickly and get to the places that they need to provide those types of effects," McConville said. "I don't see us in competition with the Marine Corps. We've got a great Marine Corps; they have roles and missions that are extremely important, as does the United States Army."

Soldiers from Army Pacific train with members of Marine Corps Forces, Pacific in joint exercises to ensure that each service's strengths can be used more effectively, LaCamera said, explaining that the Army brings mass into the equation.

"Whether they are there first and we come in behind them and that allows them to continue to move on, it's really based on how do we work well within [the joint war plan of Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of Indo-Pacific Command]," LaCamera said. "We are experimenting together to make sure that we can ... respond and win if we've got a fight."

The Army also provides more than 51% of the logistics support for the other services, LaCamera pointed out.

"As we work through operations, activities and investments and we experiment out here with the next fight ... I think we play a critical role to the success of operations out here," he said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

Related: Marines Hop Islands, Set Up Long-Range Fires as Force Preps for Clash with China

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