Mark Collins – The Asian Maritime Cockpit, Eagle vs Dragon Section, Pacific Pivot Indeed

Further to this post, more on the US defense department’s planning for what seems to me potentially the most dangerous area of possible confrontations in the world:

U.S. Strategy Details Military Buildup In Pacific
U.S. sends top gear to aid allies in Asia

Despite global demands on the U.S. military, the Defense Department is still sending its most modern aircraft, ships and other equipment to the Asia-Pacific as countries in the region build up their forces.

It starts with aircraft carriers—replacing the USS George Washington this year with the newer USS Ronald Reagan. The movement also includes the U.S. Navy’s newest air-operations-oriented amphibious assault ship, the USS America, which should arrive by 2020. Additionally, the U.S. will deploy two Aegis-capable destroyers to Japan and the newest class of stealth destroyers; the DDG-1000 will reside with the Pacific fleet, the Pentagon says in its “Asia-Pacific Maritime Strategy,” released early in August.

“We are complementing these surface capabilities with some of our most capable air assets, including F-22s, continuous deployments of B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers, additional tiltrotor aircraft for the Marine Corps and Special Forces, and, in 2017, the first forward-stationing of F-35s to Iwakuni, Japan,” the Defense Department report notes.

“[The Defense Department] is procuring advanced precision munitions that will allow our forces to strike adversaries from greater stand-off distances, like the new extended-range Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (Jassm-er), and a new long-range anti-ship cruise missile.” And upgrades to Tomahawk cruise missiles are planned…

The more-advanced hardware is important because of the “rapid military modernization across the Asia-Pacific region,” which, the Pentagon says “has significantly increased the potential for dangerous miscalculations or conflict.”

“China is modernizing every aspect of its maritime-related military and law enforcement capabilities, including its naval surface fleet, submarines, aircraft, missiles, radar capabilities and coast guard,” the Pentagon says [see“The Rapid Expansion of China’s Navy in Five Charts”]…

Japan is also beefing up its Japan Self-Defense Force and is realigning its military near the Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China. The Japanese cabinet has increased the budget for the coast guard, in part to fund a permanent Senkakus patrol unit [see “Rising Sun’s Yen for Defence Spending, FY 2016-17 Section“]…

As for confrontations, I wrote in June 2014:

China’s rise, above all militarily, is the most significant and I would argue most ominous/dangerous feature of our times–and Japan’s military oats the wild card. Russian adventurism is a minor nuisance by comparison [Upper Volta with hydrocarbons?], though one that could end up going blooey if irresponsible madness prevails both in the Kremlin and the West (read very, very mainly the US). Militant/military Sunni Islamist extremist, unless it gets nuclear weapons, has no truly threatening physical strength for us. Let us work to cauterize those areas where it is in ascendance and try to limit its moral ascendance (that is a frightening power) elsewhere to the extent that we can. And ‘twould be nice if that vast horde of moderate Muslims would pitch in rather more energetically and publicly.

But the overall policy, of all sorts, Schwerpunkt should be the Dragon.

What do others think?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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