U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Fact Sheet

The Black Alliance for Peace created and distributed this important Fact Sheet on the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) on 04 July 2024.

Today, the United States is leading the world’s largest multinational maritime war exercise from occupied Honolulu, Hawai’i. 25,000 personnel from 29 nations, including NATO allies and other strategic partners, are participating in the Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, under the command of the US Pacific Fleet, a major component of the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM).

With RIMPAC now underway, the lands and waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands are being intensively bombed and shelled as participating forces practice amphibious landings and urban combat training, and the Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) find their sovereignty once again violated after more than 130 years of colonization by the US.

RIMPAC aims to fortify the colonization and militarization of the Pacific, ensuring the security of the West’s imperialist agenda against the rise of China and other threats to the US-led capitalist system.

In the interest of advancing a political education around the history and purpose of INDOPACOM as part of U.S. militarism, the Solidarity Network for the Black Alliance for Peace has published this comprehensive Fact Sheet on INDOPACOM.


U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, or INDOPACOM, is one of the U.S. Department of Defense’s eleven unified combatant commands that together span the globe. INDOPACOM’s area of responsibility (AOR) covers half of the earth’s surface, stretching from California to India’s western border, and from Antarctica to the North Pole. INDOPACOM claims 38 nations within its AOR, which together comprise over half of the world’s population. Its AOR includes the two most populous countries in the world, China and India, while also encompassing small island nations, such as Diego Garcia, Guam, Palau, and Samoa, all of which are under some form of U.S. colonial occupation. INDOPACOM comprises multiple components and sub-unified commands. They include U.S. Forces Korea, U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, and U.S. Army Pacific.

According to INDOPACOM, this large and diverse area is optimal terrain to implement its “combat credible deterrence strategy.” This includes an estimated 366 bases and installations across 16 nations–more than any other command structure due to large concentrations in Guam, Hawai’i, Japan, Korea, and Okinawa. Many of the military installations strategically surround China and major trade routes.

Headquartered at Camp H.M. Smith of occupied Honolulu, Hawai’i, INDOPACOM claims to enhance stability and ensure “a free and open Indo-Pacific” through military and economic partnerships with countries in the region. Nonetheless, it also claims to advance “U.S. national security objectives while protecting national interests.” INDOPACOM states its mission is to build a combat-ready force “capable of denying its adversaries sustained air and sea dominance.”

The History of INDOPACOM

INDOPACOM is the U.S. military’s oldest and largest combatant command. It is the result of a merger between three commands–Far East Command, Pacific Command and Alaskan Command–which were established after World War II in 1947. The first commander of the Far East Command, General Douglas MacArthur, was tasked with “carrying out occupation duties of Korea, Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, the Bonin Islands, the Philippines and the Mariana Islands.” From the end of WWII to 1958, the U.S. military conducted 67 nuclear tests throughout the Marshall Islands under “Operation Crossroads.” It conducted another 36 nuclear detonations at Christmas Island and Johnston Atoll in 1962 under “Operation Dominic,” which permanently destroyed the natural biomes.

Against the backdrop of the Korean War, the key predecessor to INDOPACOM, Pacific Command, was primarily oriented toward combat operations in Korea and later, the Philippines. The ongoing Korean War has resulted in millions of casualties as well as the demarcation of North and South Korea since 1953. By 1957, Pacific Command saw a major expansion and strategic reorientation of its AOR, absorbing the Far East Command and most of the Alaskan Command. Camp H.M. Smith of occupied Honolulu, Hawai’i was selected as the new headquarters because the U.S. Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, the largest maritime invasion force in the world, was already located there.

Throughout the U.S. war on Vietnam, Pacific Command controlled all U.S. military forces, including South Vietnamese assets, and operations within the country. Leading both the U.S. Pacific Air Forces and Pacific Fleet, Pacific Command’s brutal campaigns resulted in some of the most egregious atrocities, such as the My Lai massacre in 1968. Pacific Command’s operations also included some of the heaviest aerial bombardments, like “Operation Rolling Thunder.” In its numerous campaigns, which also included “Operation Bolo,” “Linebacker I and II”, “Ranch Hand,” and “Arc Lightdropping,” Pacific Command dropped over 5 million tons of bombs and at least 11 million gallons of the highly corrosive herbicide known as “Agent Orange” on Southeast Asia. Pacific Command was also responsible for covert bombing operations targeting Cambodia and Laos during the war, dropping over 2.5 million tons of bombs through “Operation Menu.”

Pacific Command saw subsequent alterations to its AOR after U.S. forces fled Vietnam in 1973. Responsibility for Afghanistan and Pakistan was delegated to US Central Command after its inauguration in 1983, while Pacific Command assumed new responsibility for China and North Korea that same year. U.S. Secretaries of Defense Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield respectively oversaw territorial expansions to Pacific Command’s AOR in 1989 and 2002, into INDOPACOM’s current formation.


The United States continues to view the Asia-Pacific region as pivotal to the pursuit of its material interests, emphasizing that the region is home to some of the largest and fastest-growing economies and militaries. The Obama administration’s 2011 “Pivot to Asia” marked a stronger push by Pacific Command for confrontation not only with China but any nation or movement that poses a threat to U.S. hegemony in the region.

In 2018, Pacific Command was rebranded to Indo-Pacific Command, or INDOPACOM, as it is known today. This move was meant to recognize the strategic importance of India, following heightened aggression toward China during the Obama and Trump presidencies. INDOPACOM regularly conducts joint naval training exercises in the South China Sea with countries like Japan and Australia in clear violation of international law and even secretly stationed U.S. special-operations and support forces in Taiwan since 2021.

Massive military exercises like the largest international maritime warfare training, the “Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC),” and others like “Cape North” and Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center trainings occur frequently in occupied Hawai’i and Guam, without the consent of the Indigenous populations. In 2023, INDOPACOM carried out new iterations of its“Talisman Sabre” exercise in Australia and its “Super Garuda Shield” exercise in Indonesia. These exercises involved tens of thousands of military personnel from 13 and 19 nations, respectively, including the Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Tonga for the first time.

INDOPACOM’s major military partners in the Asia-Pacific region include Japan and South Korea. The U.S. military holds significant leverage over each nation’s armed forces via agreements undergirding the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ), essentially commanding additional joint military structures with their own distinct mission, vision, and objectives in support of INDOPACOM. USFK continues to prevent reunification in Korea as part of its mission to “defend the Republic of Korea,” while USFJ remains committed to the colonial occupation of Okinawa as part of its mission of “provid[ing] a ready and lethal capability…in support of the U.S.-Japan Alliance.”


INDOPACOM works to extend U.S. military influence throughout the Asia-Pacific region and to promote the militarism and violence required to fulfill the material interests of the U.S. ruling class. By portraying China as a global bogeyman, INDOPACOM serves to obfuscate the indigeneity and legitimacy of liberation movements like those occurring on the occupied islands of Guam, Hawai’i, Okinawa, and Samoa, as well as nearly every other nation across the region from Indonesia and Malaysia to the Philippines. INDOPACOM’s aggressive role in the region serves to create the very instability it uses to justify its own existence and mask the responsibility of U.S. officials provoking new wars.

The Black Alliance for Peace stands against the influence and power of INDOPACOM, and the ever-increasing militarization of the region. Informed by the Black Radical Peace Tradition, we understand that peace is not the absence of conflict, but the achievement, by popular struggle and self-defense, of a world liberated from nuclear armament and proliferation, unjust war, and global white supremacy. As referenced in our Principles of Unity, BAP takes a resolute anti-colonial, anti-imperialist position that links the international role of the U.S. empire–one based on war, aggression and exploitation–to the domestic war against poor and working-class African/Black people in the United States.

Featured photo: Vice Adm. John Wade, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet and Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2024 Combined Task Force (CTF) Commander, center, and task force leadership take questions during the opening press conference for RIMPAC 2024 held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 27, 2024. Public Domain.