Pentagon Prepares for Confrontation in the Asia-Pacific by Rick Rozoff

by Rick Rozoff
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
June 2, 2012

In January of this year the three officials in charge of U.S. global military strategy and operations – commander-in-chief President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey – unveiled the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, entitled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” which officially confirmed American plans to increase its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China, now the world’s second-largest economy.

Alternately referred to as rebalancing, reemphasis, refocusing and a pivot away from Europe and toward the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, the new doctrine reflects the past twenty years’ consolidation of U.S. military and political control of Europe through the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the subjugation of North Africa and the Middle East except for, at least for the present, Syria and Iran through the creation of U.S. Africa Command, NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative military partnerships and its ten-and-a-half-year-old Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean, and the wars against Iraq and Libya.

Having not so much neutralized opposition – there were no effective challengers to U.S. geopolitical hegemony in the indicated areas – as eliminated remaining pockets of independence and nonalignment (Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya), the Pentagon and its allies are free to move against China, having already surrounded Russia through NATO expansion and partnerships from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, the South Caucasus to Central Asia, the Arctic Ocean to Mongolia.

On June 1 Pentagon chief Panetta spoke at the eleventh annual Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit in Singapore, where the U.S. has recently gained basing rights for its warships, and reiterated plans to expand, tighten and integrate its alliances with defense treaty partners in the Asia-Pacific: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. (Taiwan is practically if not formally in that category.)

As the Defense Department’s news agency, American Forces Press Service, reported, Panetta emphasized that “Defense policy in the region calls for the U.S. military to expand military-to-military relationships well beyond the traditional treaty allies.” The allusion is to the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand) not already included in bilateral military alliances with Washington as well as new partners like Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Tonga and others supplying troops or transit bases for the U.S.-NATO war in Afghanistan. An old ally, Pakistan, and newly acquired ones, India and Bangladesh, are also within the Pentagon’s purview.

In the past few years the U.S. has pulled Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam into its political-military orbit and expanded partnerships with Malaysia and Singapore, which have troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan along with Australia, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Korea and Tonga.

Panetta’s comments in Singapore included the following: “By 2020, the Navy will reposture its forces from today’s roughly 50/50 split between the Atlantic and Pacific to about a 60/40 split between those oceans – including six aircraft carriers, a majority of our cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines.”

To appreciate the scale of what that redeployment portends, it’s worth noting the unprecedented and unparalleled military capacity the U.S. has built from the end of World War II to the present, in the process establishing the first and only global military force.

The U.S. has eleven aircraft carriers with attached strike groups; all the world’s supercarriers and all but one of its twelve nuclear-powered carriers. (France has the other.) The eleven American supercarriers are the largest warships ever built.

It has 61 guided missile destroyers and 22 guided missile cruisers, all of which are part of or can be upgraded to join the Aegis Combat System, thereby being capable of participating in Washington’s worldwide interceptor missile program.

The U.S. Navy also possesses 72 submarines, 18 ballistic and 53 attack models, and 24 frigates, nine amphibious assault ships, seven amphibious transport docks, 12 dock landing ships, four littoral combat ships and scores of other vessels.

Washington has pledged to deploy 60 percent of the above to the Asia-Pacific region in the imminent future.

Ahead of his trip to Singapore, Panetta visited the headquarters of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) in Honolulu, Hawaii and American Forces Press Service reported that “There are 330,000 U.S. service members in the Pacific Command area now, and Panetta anticipates the proportion of the total military in the region will rise.”

The same source added: “The American military also wants to strengthen power projection capabilities in the region. Panetta said there will be new platforms and capabilities for troops in the area.”

U.S. military chief Martin Dempsey is also attending the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and his meetings in the Southeast Asian nation indicate one component of the Pentagon’s  “power projection” strategy for the Asia-Pacific area. He met with the host country’s defense minister, chief of defense and heads of its army, air force and navy and toured the Sembawang Air Base and other military facilities.

His discussions included topics like the regular Commando Sling joint U.S.-Singapore air combat exercises and the imminent deployment of U.S. littoral combat ships to Singapore agreed upon late last year.

Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen visited the Pentagon in April, during which Panetta announced the doubling of the number of U.S. warships to be “forward deployed” to Singapore, from two to four, for exercises and operations near the strategic Strait of Malacca.

In the same month the U.S. deployed the first 200 of 2,500 Marines to northern Australia as part of a military buildup which will also include aircraft, warships and drones.

The Philippines is the third Asia-Pacific nation where the Pentagon is securing new bases to contain and ultimately confront China.

In April the U.S. and the Philippines conducted the latest Balikatan military maneuvers with 4,500 American Marines and 2,500 Philippine troops which included an amphibious assault at Ulugan Bay on Palawan Island to rehearse the “recapture” of an island near the Spratly Islands contested by the Philippines and China.

Most of the Asia-Pacific is in the area of responsibility of U.S. Pacific Command, one of six Unified Combatant Commands the Pentagon employs to maintain control of and pre-position for potential military actions throughout the world. It consists of U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Pacific Air Forces.

PACOM’s website boasts that its geographical reach “encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole.”

Its area of responsibility takes in 36 nations and over half of the world’s population.

The website also itemizes American military assets already deployed to the Asia-Pacific:

Some 350,000 military personnel, one-fifth of total U.S. forces.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet, assigned to PACOM, includes six of eleven aircraft carrier strike groups, approximately 180 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 100,000 service members.

U.S. Marine Forces Pacific consists of two-thirds of U.S. Marine Corps combat troops, two Marine Expeditionary Forces and 85,000 personnel.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces has over 40,000 airman and more than 300 aircraft, with an additional 100 aircraft based in Guam.

U.S. Army Pacific has over 60,000 service members and five Stryker combat vehicle brigades.

There are also an estimated 1,200 Special Operations troops assigned to PACOM.

Components of U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Third Fleet is home-based in California and the Seventh Fleet in Japan. The Seventh Fleet, the largest forward-deployed naval force in the world, has 50 to 60 ships, 350 aircraft and 60,000 Marines and sailors.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces includes the Fifth Air Force in Japan, Seventh Air Force in South Korea, Eleventh Air Force in Alaska and Thirteenth Air Force in Hawaii.

PACOM has three subordinate unified commands: U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Forces Korea and Alaskan Command.

Pacific Command has in recent years been making inroads into Asian nations that were off-limits during the Cold War period and for the first decade and a half afterward.

PACOM has been running annual Khaan Quest military exercises in Mongolia since 2003, mainly to train Mongolian troops for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Pacific conducts annual Angkor Sentinel exercises in Cambodia, as with those in Mongolia including troops from American NATO and from other Asia-Pacific allies.

PACOM and its service affiliates also hold regular military exercises elsewhere throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

In January the U.S. and Japan held the latest Keen Edge command post exercise in Japan and Hawaii.

From January 15-February 17 of this year 7,000 U.S, troops and 3,000 from Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea participated in the Cobra Gold 2012 war games in Thailand.

The U.S. and South Korea held their joint Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises from February 28 to April 30 (February 28-March 9 and March 1-April 30, respectively) with 11,000 American and over 200,000 South Korean troops.

In March the air forces of the U.S., Thailand and Singapore participated in the Cope Tiger exercise at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base.

At the end of the month the three-week U.S.-led Commando Sling air combat exercises in Singapore were begun.

In April the U.S. and India engaged in this year’s Malabar naval exercise, the latest in a series of annual drills with that codename, in the Bay of Bengal. The ten-day Malabar 2012 exercise was led by the U.S. Seventh Fleet and included aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, guided missile destroyer USS Halsey and American aircraft and a submarine.

In the same month the 7,000-troop U.S.-Philippine Balikatan 2012 exercise was held in the South China Sea.

On May 30 the U.S. began the 18th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in Indonesia. The nine-day exercise included a U.S. Navy Task Group and Marine landing force.

Other regular U.S.-led military exercises in the Asia-Pacific include the biennial U.S.-Australia Talisman Sabre and the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercises, the second the largest multinational naval maneuvers in the world. This year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise in and near Hawaii will run from June 29 to August 3 and include 24 nations, 42 ships, six submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.

Having vanquished most all islands of resistance and neutrality in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the Pentagon is moving its global military machine into the Asia-Pacific for a showdown with China.

8 thoughts on “Pentagon Prepares for Confrontation in the Asia-Pacific by Rick Rozoff

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  5. An Empire without an Emperor! Brilliant, sheer Orwellian OZ. It all looks great in virtual reality, but how often do any of these over-generous genii go for a walk, to realise the scale and scope of this Magellanic Whole Earth they propose to police unilaterally? This is a paranoid fantasy come to ultimate material fruition, a bath-tub dream of precocious brats. Those who fantasise such absolute control are completely deluded, intoxicated with the shiny toy-box allure of their brightly painted childish ambitions. Somewhere deep in the Chinese character, lurks the ancient wisdom of the Dao, although “officially” precluded of course. Confucius and Marx may be unlikely bedfellows, but Lao Zi’s teachings make mince-meat of all their conceits. Full spectrum down-link strategic planning is flawed for the simple reason it cannot work on the ground, despite Obama’s lethal drones. There is something completely inhuman about this US desperation to conquer everything and turn the entire population of the globe into fodder for militarised economies of ridiculous scale. It will simply evoke its Nemesis, as the seeds of destruction are built into the ever-more complex systems of control. This is rust-bucket dependence, one weak link and the whole chain will collapse and implode. What these idiots fail to see is that you can’t shoot down ideas or imprison ideals.

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  7. After the U.S., NATO and Israel finish regime change in Syria (the U.S., NATO & Israel are currently supplying weapons to anti-Assad rebels) and Iran (the U.S. & Israel are currently supporting M.E.K. terrorists inside Iran, assassinations of Iranian scientists, drone flights over sovereign Iranian airspace, & cyber sabotage of Iranian computer programs, all acts of war against Iran) so those two nations become U.S. puppets like Iraq now is, and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia controls Bahrain, and Egypt restores a pro-U.S. dictator, and Libya settles down and accepts U.S./NATO control, and Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Congo, and Ethiopia are “cleansed” of “militants” via Obama’s ongoing U.S. drone assassinations, Africa and the entire Middle East will then finally become ‘controllable’ parts of the U.S. Empire.

    Then the U.S. can turn its attention to China. In fact, “Defense” Secretary Leon Panetta just announced that 60% of the massive U.S. nuclear-armed navy will be re-deployed to the western Pacific by 2020.

    After we put China in its place and surround Russia with bases (including in Afghanistan, which U.S. forces will never completely leave) and anti-missile missiles to neutralize Russian missiles (currently an ongoing project, much to the outrage of Russia’s leaders), the U.S. Empire and its NATO arm will have ‘control’ of the entire planet.

    All this is called “full-spectrum dominance,” and it is the official U.S. policy to control the land, air, sea, undersea, space, and cyberspace of the entire globe, no matter what it costs in lives and resources, including scrapping those pesky, unnecessary, money-wasting “socialist” programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That’s why not only Republicans, but Democrats as well, support cutting these social welfare programs (Obama said these social welfare programs are all “on the table” and Nancy Pelosi has indicated she will go along with such cuts). They all work for the Empire.

    And the U.S. is well on its way to its goal of “full-spectrum dominance”.

    And, in 20 years or so, when catastrophic climate change causes increased severe droughts, famines, killer heat waves and coastal flooding, all resulting in hundreds of millions of climate refugees, riots, and attempts at revolutions (all of which the Pentagon has already officially acknowledged and is now preparing for), the Empire will be there to “control” these situations, all of this watched over by wealthy, comfortable, well-fed Democratic & Republican politicians, Wall Street Banksters, and War-Profiteering CEO’s from their air-conditioned towers of power.

    What a great plan!

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