Jul. 24—The Army is in the midst of its most significant transformation in 40 years and wants to become a "multi-domain " rapid-reaction force operating with other service branches on land, sea, air, space and cyberspace to counter threats such as China.
Long-range firepower is the Army's top modernization priority, and it seeks to put missile forces on islands in the Western Pacific to sink ships in contested choke points.
Service rivalry has accompanied some of these goals. The Army's island-hopping concept has been called "stupid " by an Air Force general. And some of the capabilities the Army seeks have been likened to those of the Marines.
The new commander of the 12, 000 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Joseph Ryan, said Friday that the Army "can and needs to have a huge role " in the Indo-Pacific.
"I'm not here to make that role any more substantial or less substantial than it already is, " he said after he was installed in the new job at Schofield Barracks.
The Army will "play a role in various ways, " he said. "We bring capability from the Army that no other serv ice can bring. It's understated, our communications capability and the communications capability we provide not just to the Army, but to all services across this theater."
Ryan, who has not yet received his second star as a division commander, also pointed to the Army's "combat aviation capability, the Army artillery capability, our long-range fires capability—some of which is resident outside of the 25th Division. But we have to be expert in employing it."
The "Tropic Lightning " division welcomed Ryan with Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, the 25th commander since Nov. 5, 2019, heading to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith as chief of staff.
Flag-carrying Schofield brigades and battalions were represented in formation on Weyand Field during the change of command. More than 500 soldiers and guests attended.
"As we push forward to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific, our partnerships and posture are more important now than ever, " Maj. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commander of First Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, said in his remarks.
First Corps said it manages daily activities for more than 44, 000 soldiers in Washington state and across the Pacific including Hawaii, Alaska and Japan.
Brunson added that "no one has put us in a better position in the last two years than Maj. Gen. Jamie Jarrard."
"It's a tough day as we stand here on Weyand Field on the Leilehua plains where warriors have trained for centuries, " Jarrard told those assembled. "I realized this morning as I was trying to figure out what I was going to say that I'll never, ever have the opportunity to be a part of a tactical formation again."
He added that "in our Army, our tactical formations are the tip of the spear."
The Army said Ryan recently served as chief of staff of the XVIII Airborne Corps before assuming duties as deputy chief of staff for operations with U.S. Forces Afghanistan.
Ryan said the 25th Division is the "lead edge of the Army out here. We're in the Pacific for a reason for the Army, and the Army's bringing a bunch of capability out here."
Asked whether he envisions changes such as missile forces coming to the 25th, Ryan said, "In terms of structure, I don't know. A lot of those decisions haven't been made." But he added that the 25th "will be as well versed as anybody, if not more, in modernization capability that the Army is going to provide out here (in ) the theater."
Army officials are "talking to the people who are working those issues and producing those modernization concepts, " with the Army "doing more of that, as far as I'm concerned, than anybody else."
The Marines "are doing a ton of modernization out here, (and ) the Navy and Air Force, of course, have been very focused on this problem for years, " he said.
He added, "We (the Army ) want to play our role. We want to be great partners to that team."
Originally from New York, Ryan graduated from West Point in 1991. During the ceremony, Ryan singled out Honolulu resident and retired four-star Gen. David Bramlett, saying, "It's an honor and a pleasure to see you again, sir."
"I told Gen. Bramlett I wouldn't say anything—but I have to because he's such a great guy, " Ryan said. "Gen. Bramlett was commandant of cadets when young cadet Joe Ryan was a cadet at West Point."