Monday, October 19, 2009

Guam: An Ace up PACOM's Sleeve

Guam: An Ace Up PACOM's Sleeve
Guam News Factor
News Analysis
Written by Michael Rudolph, Guam News Factor Writer
Monday, 19 October 2009 15:59

Retiring Admiral: ‘I came in optimistic, I leave optimistic'

By Michael Rudolph

GUAM - In an interview with retiring PACOM commander Adm. Timothy Keating, the Honolulu Advertiser noted Guam's growing strategic significance in the region. And as this U.S. Territory's military buildup looms closer, its pivotal power in the Pacific can can only be underscored in the light of PACOM's Vision Statement:
"U.S. Pacific Command will be an engaged and trusted partner committed to preserving the security, stability, and freedom upon which enduring prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region depends. (According to USPACOM Strategy )

Guam's strategic importance has gained momentum as a result of the newly empowered Democratic Party of Japan's continued opposition to the relocation of a Marine Corps air base within Okinawa and other aspects of US-Japan bilateral defense agreements. The overall role Japan will play in PACOM's strategy is uncertain; Keating explains to the Advertiser that "we will be very interested in whatever security arrangement they choose."

The Advertiser goes on to comment on a shift in U.S. military activity in South Korea: "the U.S. is assembling a large majority of its troops in a base complex south of Seoul where they will form an expeditionary force that can deploy elsewhere in Asia. South Koreans will take complete responsibility for their own defense against North Korea." Keating's response was, "this affords us the flexibility to use those ways that we had not been able to use them in times past."

With Guam's military buildup gaining traction, the concentration of U.S. military in South Korea and the nuclear powered super carrier USS George Washington's recent replacement of the 48 year old USS Kitty Hawk, Keating said "we are as ready now as we were the day I walked in."

The retiring admiral was sure to clear up notions that have been flying around that American power in the Pacific region is on a decline. The fact that 30,000 of PACOM's 300,000 military personnel are assigned in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean has not affected its readiness, according to Keating. Keating concluded the interview with this closing statement about PACOM's capabilities and intentions: "I came in optimistic, I leave optimistic."

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