(Trends Wide) — The Pentagon will focus on building bases in Guam and Australia to better prepare the US military to deal with China, a senior defense official said Monday.
The decision was prompted by a review of the Defense Department’s overall stance, which President Joe Biden ordered Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to undertake shortly after taking office in February. Austin began the global posture review in March. The review is classified, but a senior defense official provided some details about his findings.
Biden “recently approved” Austin’s conclusions and recommendations on the global posture review, Dr. Mara Karlin, who serves as Deputy Under Secretary for Policy, told a briefing on Monday.
The Indo-Pacific region was one of the main focuses of attention, as Secretary Austin emphasized that “China is the challenge that sets the pace” for the Department, said the senior defense official.
Biden faced with the challenge of China
The Biden administration has made the fight against China its top foreign policy priority, as tensions with Beijing have risen, especially over the Taiwan issue, and senior Pentagon officials have publicly expressed alarm over China’s efforts to upgrade and modernize your army. Last month, Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said China had successfully tested a hypersonic missile in what was “very much like” a Sputnik moment.
To counter China, the review directs the department to improve “infrastructure in Guam and Australia,” and prioritize “military construction in the Pacific islands,” the official said, as well as “seek greater regional access for partnership activities. military”.
“In Australia, you will see new deployments of fighter jets and rotational bombers, you will see the training of ground forces and increased logistics cooperation, and more broadly across the Indo-Pacific, you will see a number of improvements in infrastructure, in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Australia, “Karlin said during the briefing.
The global posture review also directs the Department to focus more on the Indo-Pacific region by “reducing” the number of troops and equipment in other areas of the world, “to allow better preparation for war and increased warfare. activities “in the Indo-Pacific, the official said.
Position on Russia
As for Russia, the department declined to provide specific information on how the global posture review is leading the US military to prepare to counter threats from Moscow. Generally speaking, one of the goals of the review is “to reestablish standards of readiness,” so that the US military is “agile and responsive to crises as they arise,” the official said.
The US military is working to “restore readiness” in Eastern Europe “with the goal of strengthening credible combat deterrence against Russia and the specific requirements of that region,” the official said when pressed on the issue. But he did not want to go into more detail about how the nation’s military is preparing to counter Russia.
In the Middle East, the review ordered the Department to “continue to support the campaign to defeat ISIS,” with the current US military presence in Iraq and Syria, as well as to continue working on building “the capacity of associated forces” in those countries. But overall, the review directs Austin “to conduct additional analysis on enduring posture requirements in the Middle East,” the official said.
Afghanistan was not officially included in the global posture review, because there is a separate “process”, led by the National Security Council, that is “reviewing the way forward for the US presence there,” he said. official.
Overall, the US conducted “about 75 consultations” with allies and partners in developing the review, including “NATO allies, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and more than a dozen partners. from the Middle East and Africa, “Karlin said.
The review also did not include “functional capabilities,” such as nuclear, space and cyber, because these are addressed in other specific department reviews, the official said.