November 4th, 2015 16:15 EST
Pacific Allies Pleased with U.S. Rebalance, Dunford Says
America`s closest Pacific allies are pleased with the progress being made with the U.S. military rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said Japan and South Korea are seeing the fruits of the rebalance. He was quick to point out, though, that the U.S. military is still constantly assessing threats and responses and must adjust accordingly.
The rebalance is moving forward and progress is not only measured by numbers, but by increased capabilities and quality, the chairman said. There are about 28,500 American service members in South Korea, but, he said, those troops are being used in new ways and possess new capabilities.
And there are about 50,000 service members in Japan, with another 50,000 DoD civilian employees. They, too, are seeing the results of the rebalance, Dunford said.
Adding New Capabilities
The theater is getting new Aegis-class ballistic missile defense capabilities. The Navy is adding two more destroyers and a cruiser by 2017. The USS Ronald Reagan has arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, as the only American aircraft carrier based overseas. The region is also getting F-35 Lightning II and MV-22 Osprey aircraft, the amphibious transport USS Green Bay and the P-8 Poseidon aircraft. And Marines and airmen are rotationally deployed to Australia.
The exercise calendar is similarly robust, with U.S. Pacific Command overseeing hundreds of exercises on land, sea and air and exploring ways to work with allies in cyberspace and space.
I think there is a pretty good sense at the military level that the rebalance is reflected in our leadership engagement, is reflected in our deployment patterns, it`s reflected in the exercise schedule and it`s reflected in the decisions about where to field advanced capabilities -- they are coming here [to the region], " Dunford said in an interview.
But this balance be must constantly be monitored, he said, and the U.S. military leaders are doing it.
Critics have pointed to the threats in the Middle East and Europe and said it is time to slow the rebalance; that the cuts in Europe emboldened a revanchist Russia.
I don`t think it`s a question of "Did we cut too much in Europe?` " Dunford said. I think it`s a question of, "Given the current security situation in Europe, is the deterrent that we have in place and the posture that we have to respond if deterrence fails, is it adequate?` It`s a fair question to ask and I think we ought to be asking it all the time. "
The assessment, again, is about more than just numbers. Dunford said the United States needs to assess the situation from the perspective of allies and potential adversaries.
Is our presence there sufficient to deliver the message that we want to deliver on a day-to-day basis about commitment " about deterrence, and more importantly, does the posture we have facilitate rapidly responding to potential contingencies? " the chairman said.
The Joint Chiefs and combatant commanders will continue to study the situation and will not hesitate to make recommendations for change, if needed, he said.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
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