An F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft engages in take-off and landing drills on the USS George Washington aircraft carrier during a South Korea-U.S. joint exercise in the West Sea on June 24. (Yonhap News)
n independent review assessing the Obama administration’s plans to move national security resources toward Asia and away from the Atlantic has criticized the Pentagon, saying it insufficiently explained how it would shift military forces to the region and how the government would sharpen its focus on rising security challenges across the Pacific.
In assessing the military rebalancing proposals, the study notes that “current U.S. force posture is heavily tilted toward Northeast Asia, to Korea and Japan, where it focuses properly on deterring the threats of major conflicts on the Korean Peninsula, off Japan, and in the Taiwan Strait.”
However, the study points out that the stakes are “growing fastest in South and Southeast Asia,” as proved by potentially destabilizing actions by China as it tries to extend its sovereignty in the South China Sea and over island territory in the region.
“The top priority of U.S. strategy in Asia is not to prepare for a conflict with China,” the study said. “Rather, it is to shape the environment so that such a conflict is never necessary and perhaps someday inconceivable.”
The study calls for one or more additional attack submarines in Guam; the deployment of a second Marine Corps amphibious ready group in the region, which would reduce the number in the Atlantic by one; and the bolstering of missile-defense systems.
Since the new Asia-Pacific strategy was officially announced in January, the Pentagon has sent top officials as emissaries, the most recent being Ashton B. Carter, the deputy defense secretary, who had a 10-day swing through the region.
“I think that what our partners and allies in this region are looking for is confirmation that the United States is serious and concrete about shifting a great deal of our emphasis from the places we have been — of necessity — preoccupied for the last decade, namely Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr. Carter told the American Forces Press Service, the Pentagon’s internal news service, as he was flying home last week.