Unity of Effort: Building Civil-Military Partnerships in Land Force Response to Non-Traditional Security Threats
Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (PACC-X)
Pacific Armies Management Seminars (PAMS-XLI)
Senior Enlisted Leaders (SEL-III)
Billed as the largest multinational military seminar promoting security, peace, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, PACC, PAMS and SEL are structured as multi-level symposiums joined by a common theme. Senior commanders, think tanks and selected enlisted leaders from 28 nations gathered in Seoul from 18 to 20 Sep to address non-traditional security threats and land forces role in combating the same.
The three-day 10th Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (PACC X), 41st Pacific Armies Management Seminar (PAMS XLI) and 3rd Senior Enlisted Leaders (SEL Forum III) began with a combined opening ceremony on the 18th in a flourish of tradition, music, and color. This year’s theme of the three conferences was “Unity of Effort: Building Civil-Military Partnerships in Land Force Response to Non-traditional Security Threats.”
Mr Ban Kimoon, the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations, highlighted the importance of this topic as he delivered the keynote address (see box), “It is very meaningful and timely that South Korea hosts this joint conference of PACC and PAMS today.” Kimoon remarked. “Though Korea has long been dubbed as the Land of the Morning Calm, things have been anything but calm at home.”
According to Kimoon, this conference will help build partnerships and accumulated experiences to build mutual trust and confidence among nations.
The biennial PACC fosters military-to-military cooperation, develops interpersonal relationships, and contributes to regional security and stability. This is the second time that the Republic of Korea has hosted the PACC. This year the event was co-chaired by General Kim Yongwoo, Republic of Korea Army Chief of Staff, and General Mark A. Milley, U.S. Army Chief of Staff.
Kim emphasized in his opening remarks that “non-traditional security threats are our common enemy, to be defeated for the survival and prosperity of humanity, making the role of land forces very important.” Following his co-host and counterpart, Milley said “the timing couldn’t be more uncanny. It is absolutely critical that all the nations stand-shoulder to shoulder against what arguably is the number one non-traditional threat facing the international community today—and it is very proximate to this capital city. North Korea lies 27 miles north of here and they are clearly and unambiguously threatening their neighbours, flying missiles over Japan, provoking South Korea, (and) clearly and unambiguously threatening the United States”. Milley added, “it is absolutely critical that we do everything humanly possible to avert an armed conflict to convince North Korea that their path of seeking nuclear weapons is the wrong path.”
Concurrently, leaders from 29 nations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region met for PAMS XLI. PAMS is an annual multinational military seminar that provides a forum for senior-level (Lt Col to Maj Gen, national equivalent) officers from the Indo-Pacific regional ground forces to exchange views and ideas. The forum also provides an opportunity for the future leaders of the region’s armies to establish and cultivate a set of strong interpersonal relationships. This year, PAMS was co-chaired by Lt. Gen. Jeong Yeonbong, Republic of Korea Army Vice Chief of Staff, and Gen Robert B. Brown, U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General.
In a recorded message for the delegates, The President of Republic of Korea castigated North Korea’s provocative actions and violent messages. Conveying a message of peace and dialogue, the President exhorted the neighbour to give up nuclear and missile development programmes and work towards peace, progress and harmony in the peninsula.
Senior enlisted leaders from 18 nations also met for SEL Forum III, which is held biennially in conjunction with the PACC to build enlisted defense relationships with regional partners, promote dialogue on relevant topics, such as the continued professionalisation of the non-commissioned officer corps throughout the region, and to share candid lessons learned.
At PACC India was represented by Lt Gen BS Negi, GOC-in-C of Central Command, who held a number of bilateral meetings during the deliberations. Representing India at PAMS was Col Ashwani Sharma, Editor-in-Chief, South Asia Defence & Strategic Review. Addressing the delegates at the conference, Ashwani spoke about the structure of Civil-Military relations in India and how the military provides assistance in non-conventional operations including natural disasters. Examples of Indian military’s HADR ops during Tsunami 2004, Nepal Earthquake 2015, and Uttaranchal floods 2013, Anti-Pirates operations by Indian Navy and evacuation from Yemen drew applause from the audience. “India is always ready to provide assistance to friendly foreign countries as part of a bilateral and multilateral arrangement”, he added. In the backdrop of North Korea’s threats, Ashwani answered a number of questions on nuclearisation of the Indian subcontinent and existing asymmetry in the Korean Peninsula.
While the threat of North Korea was a major topic of the three conferences, speakers highlighted other non-traditional security threats throughout the region, such as natural disasters and violent extremist organisations.