U.S. Navy’s Pacific Presence to Expand, Panetta Says | Bloomberg News
By Gopal Ratnam and Daniel Ten Kate
U.S. naval power in the Pacific will increase as the Pentagon rebalances American forces toward the Asia-Pacific region, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Singapore while calling on countries to beef up their capacity.
By 2020, the “Navy will re-posture its forces from today’s roughly 50/50 percent split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to about a 60/40 split between those oceans — including six aircraft carriers, a majority of our cruisers, destroyers, Littoral Combat Ships, and submarines,” Panetta said yesterday at the Shangri-La Dialogue. He heads to Vietnam today before a visit to India.
Panetta is using his first visit to the annual Asian security conference to elaborate on the U.S. military’s revamped global strategy laid out in January. Pentagon officials have billed the approach as an effort to focus more attention on a region where China’s growing economic and military power is causing friction with its neighbors.
Countries in the region must develop their own military capacities as well as create rules to deal with territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Panetta said.
Panetta is trying to show support for allies in the region without encouraging them to be reckless in dealings with China, said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Panetta, more than any other U.S. official, has made it clear “we want the countries in the region to have the capability to defend themselves and not take for granted or rely on the U.S. to come and put out fires when there’s a problem,” Glaser said in an interview in Singapore.
Photo: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/ Flickr