|Published: October 2013|
|As the title suggests, this is a timely presentation of what is perhaps the foremost issue in the Asia-Pacific region.|
|By Robbin Laird, Edward Timperlake and Richard WeitzAs the title suggests, this is a timely presentation of what is perhaps the foremost issue in the Asia-Pacific region.The U.S. has been a Pacific power since the end of the 19th century, and the U.S. entered World War II because of Japan not Germany. The U.S.
has been the lynchpin for Pacific defense since the defeat of Japan and has fought two major wars in the Pacific since World War II.
So a Pivot to the Pacific should come as no surprise. However, the dynamics of change in 21st century the Pacific clearly affect the US role and what is expected from it. In addition, new defense technologies and approaches will reshape the entire concept of Pacific defense. The US will shift from its classic projection of power forward into the region to a distributed force structure engaged with allies and seek to be able to provide capabilities enhancing their ability to defend themselves and their interests.
Clearly a key factor is the rise of the China as an economic, political and military power and that has global significance. The Chinese military is in the throes from benefiting for worldwide arms transfers, global engagements and operations from the Indian Ocean, African and other global locations.One can argue that this is the beginning rather than the highpoint of Chinese global reach, but global reach it is and a Pivot to the Pacific
It is important to understand the role of key Pacific powers in the changing Pacific defense dynamic. The Pivot to the Pacific is not ABOUT the United States; it is about a new Pacific defense context INVOLVING the United States. It is about the Second Nuclear Age and the role of North Korea and China. It is about conflicts among key players
Any U.S. Pivot to the Pacific is occurring in a shifting global context, and not one dominated by the United States. The so-called U.S. pivot to the Pacific really is a response to pressures from US allies. Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia among others feel the pressure from the Chinese and have placed demands on the U.S.
Japan is the key ally for the U.S. in dealing with Pacific defense. Indeed, the PRC is driving the two greatest maritime powers of the 20th century into a reinforced alliance.
In the recent meetings with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Japanese highlighted that new F-35s, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and Global Hawk long-range reconnaissance UAVs would be deployed to Japan. Indeed, by 2020 it is planned to have 5 squadrons of F-35s deployed to Japan, two with the USMC, two with the USAF and one by the Japanese
For the United States, the pivot also involves shifts in forces. Notably, the USMC is moving from parts of Japan to Guam and will forward operate from Australia as well. It is also working with the Philippines and Australia to build a light footprint force in the region. This is facilitated by the contributions of the new USMC aircraft,
Shaping a new military strategy around supporting the allies who are always forward deployed with new collaborative systems, such as the F-35, which can support distributed operations, is a key aspect of forging a 21st century strategy for the US military.
By leveraging the new platforms which are C5ISR enabled and linked by the F-35 across the USN, USMC, USAF and allied FLEETS, a new Pacific strategy can be built. And this strategy meets the needs of this century, and the centrality of allied capabilities, not as in the last decade where the U.S. pushed power forward as needed, or rooted
A key aspect of the pivot is how the U.S. can play a balancing role.
Although some may see this as about the U.S. confrontation with China, it really is about the projection of power by China in the region and Asian reactions. And in these reactions, U.S. allies are looking to the U.S. for new systems
In other words, the pivot may be the language of President Obama. But the rebuilding of Pacific defense is a reality urged by Asian powers themselves.
This book examines how the U.S. military must rebuild in the wake of Iraq/Afghanistan, and refocus its power projection to face the new challenges emerging in the Pacific and with China. The argument is developed more fully by the authors in this new, interesting book, published by Praeger.
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