Report to Congress on U.S. Ground Forces in the Indo-Pacific

May 17, 2022 10:13 AM

The following is the May 6, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, U.S. Ground Forces in the Indo-Pacific: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

Since the end of the Second World War in 1945, the U.S. military has maintained a significant and enduring presence in the Indo-Pacific region. In the past, the United States’ strategic approach to the region has varied greatly. From September 11, 2001, until almost the next decade, strategic emphasis was placed largely on global counterterrorism, primarily focused on U.S. Central Command’s (USCENTCOM’s) and later U.S. Africa Command’s (USAFRICOM’s) areas of operation. Starting around 2004, the George W. Bush Administration began to consider strengthening relations with allies in Asia and potentially revising U.S. doctrine and force posture in the region to improve U.S. capabilities.

In 2011, the Obama Administration announced the United States would expand and strengthen its existing role in the Asia-Pacific region. Referred to as the “Rebalance to Asia,” this strategic shift away from counterterrorism was intended to devote more effort to influencing the development of the Asia-Pacific’s norms and rules, particularly as China was emerging as an ever-more influential regional power.

While many view the Indo-Pacific as primarily a Navy- and Air Force-centric region, the Army and Marine Corps have a long and consequential presence in the region and are modifying their operational concepts, force structure, and weapon systems to address regional threats posed primarily by North Korea and China. The Army and Marines each play a critical role in the region, not only in the event of conflict but also in deterrence, security force assistance, and humanitarian assistance operations.

Congress continues to play an active and essential role in Indo-Pacific security matters. The Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), created by the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA; P.L. 116-283, §1251) is just one example of congressional involvement in regional security efforts. The February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and its present and future implications for European and Indo-Pacific security will likely increase both congressional interest and action in the near term and for the foreseeable future.

Potential issues for Congress include:

  • the role of U.S. ground forces in the Indo-Pacific region,
  • the posture of U.S. ground forces in the Indo-Pacific region,
  • U.S. ground forces execution of regional wartime missions, and
  • the potential impact of the Ukrainian conflict on U.S. ground forces in the Indo-Pacific region.

Download the document here.

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