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US Needs Strong Military Presence In Asia: Study

"Whether through defense transformation or changing force posture in Asia, the reshaping of US armed forces should not ignore the wide range of possible and quite demanding scenarios in Asia capable of threatening US security," O'Hanlon said. The possible scenarios: a surprise attack by nuclear-armed North Korea on US ally South Korea, China's seizure of Taiwan by means of an amphibious attack, Pakistan's atomic weapons falling into the hands of the Al-Qaeda terror network or an India-Pakistan nuclear war over Kashmir.

Washington (AFP) Oct 16, 2005
The United States can ill afford cutbacks in military capabilities in Asia, warns a report on regional military needs as Washington plans to reduce dependence on bases and troops overseas.

The report by 14 experts assesses how Asian states are modernizing their military programs in response to China's rise as a regional power, counterterrorism, changes in US force posture and local security dilemmas.

Highlighting three possible "conflict" scenarios -- China-Taiwan war, strife on the Korean peninsula and nuclear catastrophe in South Asia -- Michael O'Hanlon, an arms control expert from The Brookings Institution, said the United States and Asian allies "must retain a wide range of military capabilities."

They include higher-technology "transformative" assets and large numbers of infantry forces, he said in the report, "Military modernization in an era of uncertainty" compiled by the Seattle-based National Bureau of Asian Research.

"The United States will continue to require the use of a wide range of military bases in Asia, and Washington should place a premium on maintaining diversity in such arrangements," he said.

Given the great distances necessary in transporting military forces from the United States to the Western Pacific, O'Hanlon said, such base facilities would continue to claim "paramount importance."

"Those who argue that defense transformation will radically reduce the need for overseas bases do not make a convincing case," O'Hanlon said.

A US military transformation plan was unveiled last year to close up hundreds of American facilities overseas no longer needed to meet Cold War threats and to bring home up to 70,000 uniformed personnel within a decade.

It was touted as the most comprehensive restructuring of US forces overseas since the end of the Korean War and aimed at deploying a more agile and more flexible force by taking advantage of modern military technologies.

"Whether through defense transformation or changing force posture in Asia, the reshaping of US armed forces should not ignore the wide range of possible and quite demanding scenarios in Asia capable of threatening US security," O'Hanlon said.

The possible scenarios: a surprise attack by nuclear-armed North Korea on US ally South Korea, China's seizure of Taiwan by means of an amphibious attack, Pakistan's atomic weapons falling into the hands of the Al-Qaeda terror network or an India-Pakistan nuclear war over Kashmir.

The five US treaty allies in Asia are Japan, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. Singapore, a strong supporter of US military presence in the region, allows American forces use of facilities in the island state.

Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said in the 461-page report that the United States would be called upon to "maintain or even increase" its role as regional security guarantor for a number of Asian states.

"This will require the US to preserve its current military dominance, protect its existing alliances, and develop new ties to major states that are not allied or opposed to Washington," he said.

"Not doing so," Tellis said, "would likely lead to military build-ups, increased tension, and even nuclear weapons proliferation."

On China, he said although its growing military power dominated the strategic thinking of the United States and other regional powers, Asian states felt explicit security competition with China would "undermine" economic progress.

Yet, as a safeguard, many Asian powers are developing military capabilities and outlaying defense expenditures as a safeguard against China's rise, he said.

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Washington (UPI) Oct 13, 2005
When U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Libya's Foreign Minister Abdul-Rahman Shalgem in New York last month it was the highest-level bi-lateral meeting between officials of the two countries in over 20 years. The encounter reflected what Washington characterizes as rapidly improving relations - and the Libyans not rapidly enough.







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