More Faces, More Places, Without More Bases: Communicating Pacific Pathways

  • Colonel Jerry A. Hall

The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance directed the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and required the Department of Defense to develop “innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches” to achieve security objectives. One Army response to this directive was the innovative and efficient Pacific Pathways 2014 (Pathways) initiative. The Pathways approaches would primarily consist of exercises, rotational presence, and military-to-military engagement. However, the Army struggled to clearly explain Pathways so the program was challenged. Pathways was perceived by challengers to be an Army attempt to remain strategically relevant in competition with the Marine Corps. This paper examines how U.S. Army Pacific leaders and staffs communicated the Pathways program. It demonstrates that, despite challenges, they effectively communicated the Pathways concept. The paper reviews the strategic information environment in the late summer and fall of 2013. Following an overview of the situation, it analyzes the Pathways communication strategy and implementation. It concludes with recommendations on how to communicate future iterations of Pacific Pathways more effectively.