Friday, April 13, 2007

Report Recommends Military Build up in the Pacific

Report Recommends US Military Buildup in Pacific
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 13) – The U.S. government "should
give serious consideration" to shifting the balance of its naval forces from
the Atlantic to the Pacific, and beef up its military muscle on Guam as part
of the shift, according to a think-tank's report, released Tuesday in
Washington, D.C.

China's potential to become the U.S. military's next military rival is the
reason for the report's suggestion.

The 129-page report, "U.S.-China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, A
Responsible Course," was released by a task force of the Council on Foreign

Retired Pacific Command chief Adm. Dennis Blair and former U.S. Trade
Representative Carla Hills led the task force.

The report suggested further military buildup on Guam beyond the island's
future role as host to thousands of members of the U.S. Marines who will be
relocated from Okinawa.

The Marines' relocation to Guam is expected to cost US$10 billion that the
U.S. government and Japanese governments are expected to co-pay.

"The United States should sustain and selectively enhance its force posture
in Asia, ensuring it has capabilities commensurate with the region's growing
importance to the U.S. economy and other vital national interests,"
according to the task force's report.

"Improvements to U.S. military facilities on Guam should continue, not only
to relieve some of the burden on Okinawa, but also to upgrade the overall
capabilities of U.S. Pacific forces," according to the report.

The U.S. and China now "have a relationship that was truly unimaginable two
generations ago," according to Council on Foreign Relations President
Richard Haass in a foreword to the report.

But at the same time, the report's overall message also includes this: the
U.S. "should be clear that any aggressive behavior on China's part would be
met with strong opposition," according to Haass.

And to be ready in the event China becomes militarily aggressive, the report
states the U.S. naval forces' focus should shift from the Atlantic.

"The maritime interests of the United States in the future are increasingly
in the Asia-Pacific region, and the stationing of its naval forces should be
aligned with this trend," according to the report.

In the near future, the Washington Times quotes Blair as saying, the task
force does not think China will become a "peer competitor" of the U.S.

But the report also includes partly dissenting views of certain task force

"China has already increased its ability to challenge American military
preponderance in the Western Pacific," wrote task force member Aaron

And Friedberg added, "maintaining a favorable balance of power will not be
easy, especially at a time when U.S. attention and resources are likely to
remain divided between Asia and the Middle East."

The 30-member task force also includes former Defense Secretary Harold
Brown, and former State Department officials Winston Lord, Wendy Sherman and
Randy Schriver.

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