Panel of Army senior leaders discusses current challenges for operations overseas

A panel discussion takes place during the opening day of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference.

By Jess Dupree, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs

By Suhyoon Wood, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 11, 2018) – A panel discussion took place on current operations and their implications for the maneuver force during the first full day of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia, Jan. 9.

Panelists during the event included Maj. Gen. Charles A. Flynn, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific; Maj. Gen. Erik Kurilla, commanding general of 82nd Airborne Division; and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. McGuire, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Europe.

The panelists spoke about the obstacles in their specific areas of responsibility to describe why cross-domain maneuver should be integrated into current operations. For example, U.S. Army Pacific oversees command in the Pacific and most of Asia. By 2050, Flynn said, more than 70 percent of the world population will live within this region.


“Where there’s that many people, there’s a competition for resources,” he said. “Resources being food, water and military hardware.”

Additionally, eight of 10 natural disasters occur in the Pacific region. Soldiers in the area must be prepared to respond to these disasters just like any other national security threat.

Flynn emphasized the importance of training to meet the demands of these threats. While combat training centers have already begun taking on the brunt of this training, continued training at home station is essential to the continued success of Americans overseas. He specifically called on the young leaders at Maneuver Center of Excellence schools to “fight to train” when they report to their home stations.

“You’ve got to find the time to train,” he said.


Kurilla said the biggest challenge the 82nd Airborne faces right now is overcoming, deploying and fighting in 16 years of low-intensity counter insurgency. In the current environment, troops arrive in theater and have equipment issued to them there. In the future, this might not be possible.

“A huge part of this is changing our culture,” he said. “One of the things we tell our paratroopers is, you will deploy – not if, it’s when – with the people you have who are deployable today, with the equipment you have on hand today and in the condition that it’s in.”

McGuire emphasized the diversity of the threat in Europe. Since Europe and NATO do not consist of a single entity, the threat changes around the continent.

“It really comes down to Russia, radicals and refugees,” he said. “There is one clear pacing threat, and that is Russia.”

Russia has made strides in its defense program, including the use of the cyber domain – the electromagnetic spectrum, communications and social media – in its strategy, McGuire said. Another important factor in the European area of responsibility is the terrain and what obstacles it poses for freedom of movement and speed of assembly.


“As General Kurilla pointed out, we have divested of capabilities to fight and win in the low-intensity fights we’ve been in, but in order to fight a peer competitor, we need to bring that back in,” McGuire said.

U.S. Army Europe is committed to fighting in partnership with NATO allied nations. McGuire said Soldiers under his command routinely train with their European counterparts to ensure all joint commands can operate together seamlessly.

“We need to be prepared to fight and win as a coalition,” he said. “And in the United States Army Europe, we will fight and win as part of NATO.”

Panelists fielded follow-up questions from the audience before concluding their presentation.

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