New China strategy
Defense Secretary-designate Leon E. Panetta revealed an emerging U.S. military strategy toward China that is gaining urgency as tensions between China and several states in Southeast Asia continue to rise.
In a little-noticed statement in Mr. Panetta’s written answers to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said he is launching a review of U.S. force posture in Asia in response to the “rise of new pow- ers”, code for China.
Asked what specific force enhancements he plans for the U.S. military in Asia, Mr. Panetta stated: “If confirmed, I will review [the Pentagon’s] posture in Asia and make appropriate recommendations on any enhancements.”
Mr. Panetta, currently CIA director, said he agreed that U.S. forces must be bolstered in Asia and noted that U.S. allies in the region “must remain confident in the continued strength of our deterrence against the full range of potential threats.”
The Pentagon “should maintain an enduring military presence in the Asia-Pacific region that provides a tangible reassurance that the United States is committed to Asia’s security, economic development and the prosperity essential to the region’s success,” he said.
Security priorities in Asia include protecting U.S. territory, citizens and allies; deterring aggression and maintaining regional stability; and maintaining free and open access to the maritime, air and space domains, in addition to countering violent extremism and arms proliferation, Mr. Panetta said.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also highlighted the new strategy during weapons, the Navy and Air Force are developing “a new concept of operations” called the Air-Sea Battle Concept “to ensure that America’s military will continue to be able to deploy, move and strike over great distances in defense of our allies and vital interests,” Mr. Gates said, without mentioning China.
On June 14, Sens. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, and James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee, introduced a Senate resolution condemning China’s use of force in the South China Sea.
The resolution highlighted several incidents of Chinese harassment, including two recent encounters when Chinese vessels disabled the cables towed by Vietnamese energy-exploration ships. The resolution also noted the recent attempted ramming of a Philippines ship by a Chinese vessel and Chinese harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the past.
The umbrella concept is called “extended deterrence” and commits U.S. nuclear forces to defending Japan from nuclear strikes or threats.
“There are some in Japan that are discussing indigenous nuclear development in Japan, partly due to a lack of confidence in the U.S. extended deterrence,” said the cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, labeled “secret.”
The Japanese were assured by defense officials that the U.S. nuclear-deterrence policy “remains strong,” said the cable, made public on the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The cable also stated that Japan was stepping up military space operations. The proposed measures included bolstering space-based intelligence functions and increasing technology cooperation with civilian space companies.
The cable also stated that Japan was considering deployment of space “assets and technology, such as earlywarning satellites, signal-intelligence satellites, compact reconnaissance satellites, and sensor and jamming resistant technologies.”
Bill Gertz can be reached at insidether firstname.lastname@example.org.