As the United States renews its commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, plans to strengthen its naval presence in Japan and military presence in Southeast Asia are being prepared, says a quadrennial defense policy report. The plan comes in the wake of the rising military presence of China, which has been causing concern not just to the U.S., but to its Asian neighbors as well.
The Quadrennial Defense Review said, “We will continue our contributions to the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to preserve peace and stability in a region that is increasingly central to U.S. political, economic and security interests.” While the U.S. Navy currently has 50 ships stationed in the Pacific, they plan to increase that to 65 by the year 2020. They intend to move 60 percent of their assets in the region by that year, and will include “enhancements to our critical naval presence in Japan,” said Rear Adm. William Lescher, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget.
The move aims to curtail “greater risk that tensions over long-standing sovereignty disputes or claims to natural resources that will spur disruptive competition of erupt into conflict” within the region. While the report failed to mention a specific nation, China is in the middle of territorial disputes with Japan, as well as the Philippines and several other countries near the South China Sea, combined with Beijing being repeatedly seen sneaking in ships for armed exercises in both regions. However, the report noted, ‘The rapid pace and comprehensive scope of China’s military modernization continues, combined with a relative lack of transparency and openness from China’s leaders regarding both military capabilities and intentions.”
Meanwhile, mentions were also made about countries which have nuclear programs, such as Iran and North Korea. It said, ‘The North Korean regime continues to pursue interests counter to those of the United Sates.” A plan to strengthen Guam by adding naval and air force personnel there was mentioned, along with a plan to relocate Marine Corps functions to the island for a “posture that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable.” As such, Japan and the U.S. have already finalized moving 9,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2020.