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Ensuring Operational Access: Leveraging Engineering Contractors in the Pacific

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,01 May 2015

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In January 2012, President Obama announced the US military would pivot to the Pacific to support and protect political and economic interests in the Region. To this end, the Joint Operational Access Concept JOAC and Joint Concept for Entry Operations JCEO outline the specific operational requirements for gaining and maintaining operational access against anti-accessanti-denial threats. The joint engineer force supports operational access through the construction and repair of bases and supporting infrastructure. However, after over a decade of stability operations, the joint engineer force is inexperienced and ill prepared to support operational access for major operations in the Pacific Region. Using the theoretical lens of operational art, this study proposed the thesis that by supplementing existing engineering capabilities with construction and engineering support contractors, joint force commanders can ensure operational access. This study concluded that integration of construction and engineering support contractors during Phase I Deter and Phase II Seize the initiative operations allows joint force commanders to gain operational access by establishing and maintaining basing, maintaining operational tempo, and extending operational reach. Construction and engineering support contractors achieved this by demonstrating expeditionary capabilities and by providing expert and innovative solutions to military engineering problems. Additionally, the evidence suggests that the strategic context of a given operational environment, such as dispersed or concentrated basing, may govern the US militarys ability to ensure interoperability with contractors while achieving operational access. Operational planners must clearly evaluate existing military engineering capabilities and operational requirements to identify specific engineering gaps.

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