Pacific Command: Attacking the Nexus of Emerging Threats
by Jan Schwarzenberg
With conflicts winding down in Southwest Asia and the accompanying retraction of U.S. forces overseas, the U.S. may once again direct its attention globally. While troops engaged in open combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, commitments elsewhere in the world did not lag or wane. In fact, nefarious elements may have taken advantage of the situation to advance their illegal activities or ideologies. However, with the President’s declaration that the U.S. will once again “pivot” to concentrate on the Pacific, it is time to assess where and how the country will focus that attention in the Pacific arena, especially in an era of reduced resources.
This article examines issues in the Pacific that have warranted long-standing U.S. attention and remain of concern today. In addition, it will explore emerging networks in Asia that threaten national security. Expenditures to counter this threat will require reducing funds for other programs. For example, for almost 25 years, the Joint Interagency Task Force-West (JIATF-W) has focused on just the illicit narcotics trade. The rising criminal syndicates in Asia have developed a sophisticated industry of networks to move illegal goods of all kinds, not just narcotics. Focusing attention on those networks, regardless of their political or criminal aim and irrespective of what items they illegally transfer across borders, will prove to be a more economical expenditure of public funds. Pursuing entire networks for elimination will be a greater return on investment than attempting to interdict just narcotics, weapons, false document providers, or warehouse-shippers.
The Asia Pacific Counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) Fusion Center (APCFC) is Pacific Command’s (PACOM) executive agent for all matters related to the counter-IED fight…
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| About the Author:
Captain Jan Schwarzenberg, U.S. Navy (Ret.) was the Deputy Director for Interagency Coordination at Pacific Command 2004-2008. He subsequently commanded the Counter-IED task force PALADIN in Afghanistan. He is currently a student at the Elliott School for International Affairs, George Washington University.