Recently, Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, got into some specifics about the Pacific rebalance of U.S. forces.
Speaking Jan. 23 at a Pentagon briefing, Locklear laid it out: “This year, the Japanese and the U.S. will look at the defense -- a defense review, which hasn't been done since the '90s, and we will look at what that means for the alliance of the future and what the laydown of forces should be.”
He says the countries “appear to be moving in a positive direction on the Futenma Replacement Facility in Okinawa and we very much appreciate the support of the Japanese government in moving that forward. Once that happens, and that facility is built, that will allow us then the realignment of the Marine forces throughout the Asia Pacific. It would allow them, some to relocate to Guam and ultimately some to relocate to Hawaii.”
Then there's an initiative with the Marines and the Air Force the U.S. pursuing with the Australians
“That's kind of in the land domain,” he says. “We're also looking at the infrastructure that we have together with our allies in each of our alliance countries to ensure that our shared infrastructure or the infrastructure that they have and that we would partner with them to use is set for the 21st century.”
There also will be additional deployments of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
“The first one has finished and that deployment has been overall successful,” he says. “And that will follow in the number of months, once the LCSs are in place, into deployments of up to three or four out of Singapore at any particular time.”
He says, “These are just kind of on the periphery. I've also asked each of the services, or each of my components -- service components -- to look at: how do you maximize the force that we have in being today as it rebalances to the Asia Pacific? We have initiatives in the Marine Corps, we have initiatives in the Navy, which means LCSs and additional submarines, and I think that long term we would be looking at the possibility of foreign deploying more maritime assets throughout the theater.”
He adds, “The Army, which is kind of new to the Asia Pacific in the last couple of decades, is looking at opportunities of how do you take an army that is coming out of Afghanistan and has been in COIN [counter-insurgency] operations for the last basically two decades, and to put them in the Asia Pacific in a meaningful way that allows them to partner with our allies... ? There's concepts like Pacific pathways that are being talked about. There are concepts at this point in time, but overall, I'm supportive of these initiatives.”
The U.S. has looked “around the edges of things that we do that maybe don't get quite so much splash,” he says, “but we've looked at maybe realigning some resources to the Asia Pacific center, which is a great venue for us to bring in our partners, our allies, military and civilian leadership to talk about our shared security interests.”