America Needs a Strategy in the Pacific
May 16, 2012Posted by Scott Bates
In recent months the President of the United States has spoken of a major change in American defense and foreign policy. After a decade of almost exclusive focus on two wars in the Middle East- President Obama and his national security team have announced that a "pivot to the Pacific" is taking place.
Considering that the United States has been a Pacific power for a century, that about half of the world's economic activity and almost all of its economic growth can be found in the nations of the Asia Pacific- this new focus makes great sense.
But while American troops have been in the deserts of Iraq and the hills of Afghanistan, and American taxpayers have spent a trillion dollars in the Middle East- important developments in Asia have been taking place, often without American attention or participation.
Dozens of free trade deals have been signed between the nations of the Asia-Pacific that have not included the United States. China has become the number one trading partner of almost every nation in the Asia-Pacific, and the budget for the armed forces of the People's Republic of China has been growing at a double digit rate for more than the past ten years.
Indeed, at over $100 billion dollars a year, the Chinese military has developed advanced capabilities that may be able to deny the United States Navy freedom of maneuver in the Western Pacific. This would be a strategic situation not experienced by American military planners since the Battle of Midway.
This situation has led the Pentagon to develop new strategic doctrines to address the challenge of Anti-Access and Area Denial in the Western Pacific.
In 2011 Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stood up the Air-Sea Battle Office to address this very challenge of how to allow US forces to get to a potential conflict in the Western Pacific and to then operate effectively in the area.
In short- we must develop strategies matched with weapons systems and tactics to maintain our ability to get to the battle, to operate in the battle space, and to prevail.
And to make it all even more challenging, to remain militarily predominant in the Pacific- we must find a way to operate in and prevail in five domains; air, sea, land, space and cyber space.
If the United States is to maintain the diplomatic, economic and security benefits that come to us by being the predominant military power in East Asia, then we must answer the questions of 'how to do get to the battle and how do we prevail in the potential battle space in the Western Pacific."
How can we deter potential adversaries, assure allies in the region and ensure our ability to quickly terminate conflict and prevail?
These are the questions which we must begin to ask and answer soon, for trillions of dollars, issues of war and peace and perhaps the fate of nations hang in the balance.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for National Policy.
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