If there were any lingering doubts that U.S. military forces would not be directing their attention to Asia and the Pacific Rim, this news by the Secretary of defence should put them soundly to rest.Jennifer Hlad at Stars and Stripes reports Leon Panetta told leaders in Asia Saturday that the majority of U.S. naval might will be directed at the Pacific within eight years.
60 per cent of the fleet will be in the region, with the remaining 40 per cent directing its attention upon the waters of the Atlantic.
From Stars and Stripes:
That means six aircraft carriers, along with a majority of Navy cruisers, destroyers, Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) and submarines, will be based in the Pacific region by the end of the decade — including the LCSs that will be forward deployed to Singapore. Right now, the Navy’s fleet is split roughly 50/50 between the Pacific and the Atlantic.
The U.S. will also increase the number and size of military exercises in the Pacific and more widely distribute port visits, including in the Indian Ocean region.
What the forward deployment of the fleet will do is set up a solid base of operations that will be available to support both U.S. and international forces anywhere in that part of the world. It’s a bold shift that is no doubt meant to balance out China’s burgeoning military might.
With nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in Korea, up to 2,500 Marines headed to Australia, and about 26,000 troops in Japan, an American presence in the region is nothing new.
But the additional U.S. presence will be used to bolster alliances with countries like Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and New Zealand.
“I know that many in this region and across the world are closely watching the U.S.-China relationship,” Panetta said at the Shangri-La Security Dialogue. “Some view the increased emphasis by the United States on Asia-Pacific as a challenge to China. I reject that view entirely. Our effort to renew and intensify our involvement in Asia is fully compatible with the development and growth of China.”
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