Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Note from AFA President -- Asia-Pacific

The new military strategy focusing on the Asia-Pacific Region comes at one of the most challenging times in recent history.  After ten years of war, we have withdrawn our forces from Iraq and will have most, if not all, ground forces out of Afghanistan by 2014. While we were focusing on the Middle East, China grew its economy and Armed Forces with a goal of regional hegemony. After two decades of employing Airpower, we need to recapitalize and modernize our forces – but at the same time we are cutting back on defense spending with the threat of sequestration looming in front of us. A recent series of op-eds highlight the potential dangers ahead and the risks we take in cutting defense spending.
First, an op-ed from the Sydney Morning Herald stated the Administration has warned of the rising risk of accidental war in the South China Sea unless countries in the region agree to a code of conduct. The South China Sea is one of many flashpoints in Asia.  About half of the world's commercial traffic passes through it. The PRC promised to negotiate a code of conduct – which would include freedom of navigation and the peaceful settlement of disputes – ten years ago but only when they deemed the time to be right. China also views the US's encouragement of this code of conduct as further meddling in its regional affairs. You can read the op-ed here:
Second, the People's Republic has been aggressively building up its presence in the Scarborough Shoals. They are stationing fishing boats, along with naval forces, off the Philippines coast despite an agreed-upon fishing ban put into effect by both countries. The author states the PRC is being aggressive due to the lack of deterrence in the area. You can read the piece here: 
Third, the Administration has expressed concern to Australia about cutting its own military at a time when China is exerting its influence in the area. Australia is reducing its defense budget to 1.56 percent of gross national product, its lowest since 1938. The Administration is concerned the U.S. will have to pick up the slack at the time we are cutting our own defense spending. Some analysts have expressed concern that countries may take advantage of the U.S. Military rebalance toward the Pacific to cut their defense budgets. 
Fourth, given the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the global economy, the U.S. has a major interest in preventing clashes in the South China Sea from escalating militarily. Dr. Bonnie Glaser, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, penned a piece that goes into more detail of warning indicators, U.S. interests in the region, and preventive options. You can read the piece at:
Finally, with China building three new stealth fighters, the J-20, J-15, and F-60, and three aircraft carriers, it is entirely possible that conflict could erupt in the future.  It further supports why sequestration will be dangerous. These cuts were intended to be drastic and so deep that Congress would never allow them. The result would be a dramatic deterioration in our nation's force readiness and future capabilities. Cutting our defense budget in the face of such uncertain times does not send the message we need to assure our capabilities to our allies and potential adversaries.  
As President Reagan has said:  "Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong."
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

"The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force."  --  Senate staff member

1 comment:

Hubert said...

P Reagan tripled the national debt. P Bush doubled the national debt.
P Clinton left a "too strong" Military so that P Bush wasted resources by hAving a poorly planned and executed Iraq War. With a weaker military, perhaps P Bush 5would
Not have been so foolish.

P Reagan was wrong. USA had the Iraqi War because USA was too strong. Many USA soldiers would still be alive or not carrying wounds for the rest of their lives, if P Bush had used his brain to think instead of acting from his gut feelings.