Department of Defense adds more resources to Asia-Pacific region
ASIA-PACIFIC REGION — As the Chinese government and others continue to make claims in the South China Sea, the Department of Defense and it’s Asia-Pacific allies have begun to strengthen defenses in the region.
Earlier this week Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with representatives of several nations to discuss the rebalance of assets in the region, which includes the addition of the USS Ronald Reagan, the only U.S. aircraft carrier based overseas in Yokosuka, Japan.
During the meeting Carter discussed the two main issues creating tensions between the U.S. and China, the creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea and “disagreements in cyberspace.”
In the meeting Carter called for all parties to halt claims and militarization activities in the region but stated the United States will continue to fly and operate in the region within the limits of international law.
“We urge all claimants to permanently halt land reclamation, stop the construction of new facilities and cease further militarization of disputed maritime features,” Carter said.
Carter added that President Barack Obama will be visiting the region in the coming weeks and Carter himself accepted an invitation to meet with President Xi Jingping in the spring.
President Obama and Chinese President Jingping reached an agreement to work together to investigate “cyber incidents” and refrain from conducting state sponsored theft of intellectual property, according to Carter.
In addition to the aircraft carrier, the Pacific theater will be gaining new ballistic missile defense capabilities, F-35s, amphibious transport as well as an increase in land, sea and air exercises.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. spoke about the rebalance and addressed concerns about U.S. presence in Europe as some countries have been concerned about Russian aggression.
“I don’t think it’s a question of ‘Did we cut too much in Europe?’” Dunford said regarding deterrence and defense capabilities in Europe.
“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,” Dunford said.
Dunford also spoke about recent developments in Syria, specifically the recent addition of U.S. Special Forces in the region authorized by President Obama.
“Is this enough in Syria? No, not in and of itself,” Dunford said. “That is not what it was intended to be. It’s additive to our effort. It is consistent with the campaign strategy.”
The Special Forces added are part of the coalition campaign against ISIL known as Operation Inherent Resolve.
As of September 15, 2015, the total cost of Operation Inherent Resolve is $4 billion and the average daily cost is $10 million. The U.S. has conducted 6,164 of the 7,871 airstrikes conducted in Syria and Iraq.