On July 7th, Rear Admiral Mike Studeman, Director of Intelligence, J2, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, joined INSA’s Vice President for Policy Larry Hanauer to discuss intelligence priorities and activities in support of U.S. military engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.
Admiral Studeman began by reiterating the importance of the Asia-Pacific, which contains 4 of the 5 largest economies in the world, 7 of the 10 largest militaries, and 60% of the world’s GDP. His approach to the INDO-PACOM region has 3 focuses: combat readiness, competition, and partnerships.
To explain the challenge of ensuring combat readiness, Admiral Studeman recalled a quote by General MacArthur: “The history of failure in war can almost always be summed up in two words: too late.” He stressed that it is vital that the U.S.’ defense capabilities remain ready for a very bad day. To achieve this mission and ensure resiliency, intelligence must be provided to the correct places so that the proper actions can be taken.
Regarding competition, Admiral Studeman emphasized the importance of intelligence to allow the U.S. to visualize what the competition looks like. But he also warned that continued assessment is necessary to allow the defense mechanism to recalibrate its strategy depending on the specific circumstances that are being faced. And on partnerships, Admiral Studeman stressed that he believes intelligence sharing should be the norm, not the exception.
Although Admiral Studeman is confident that the U.S. has strategic warning capabilities on all major issues within the INDO-PACOM theatre, he is concerned that operational and tactical warnings may not be keeping pace. He hopes that the U.S. defense apparatus will build up the necessary capabilities to handle unfolding scenarios so that when there is strategic warning, the tools necessary to act are already available.
On China, Admiral Studeman warned of danger on all fronts, not simply on the often publicized “Taiwan issue”. He emphasized that the China challenge is global, and that the U.S. must understand the sheer magnitude of China’s ambitions to ensure that expectations are in line with the actions that are required to address the threat.
On technology, Admiral Studeman noted the immense investment and progress that China is making in the space and cyber realms as well as in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The U.S. is also investing in these areas, and he hopes that the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which was introduced by Congress last year to focus resources on vital military capabilities to deter China, will provide further assistance.
Admiral Studeman also discussed the importance of partners and innovation in supporting INDO-PACOM’s mission. Through relationships with DIA, NRO, and many other public and private organizations, INDO-PACOM is experimenting and trying their best to advance the ball for the entire defense intelligence enterprise.
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