Washington: U.S. forces will re-strengthen deployment and bases targeted China and Russia, while keeping Middle Eastern troops strong enough to block Iran and jihadist groups, the Pentagon said Monday, citing the results of the review.
The U.S. Department of Defense will be developing and expanding military bases in Guam and Australia, emphasizing its focus on China as a leading defense ally, officials said.
The details of the “land reform review,” approved by President Joe Biden’s administration earlier this year, will remain confidential, officials added, so as not to reveal plans to rivals.
The move comes in the wake of the formation of a new defense alliance, called AUKUS, between the United States, Britain and Australia to fight a growing China, which has been building its own navy and monitoring US military rule for decades across Asia.
That agreement was established as Beijing strengthened its control over the disputed South China Sea and strengthened its military threats against Taiwan, a key United States partner and arms supplier.
The review confirmed that the most important area in the U.S. military was the Indo-Pacific, said Mara Karlin, Pentagon’s chief policy officer.
The review “directs more cooperation with partners and partners across the region to develop programs that contribute to regional stability and prevent military violence from China and threats from North Korea,” he told reporters.
In addition, “it strengthens the credible barriers to Russian violence in Europe and makes NATO forces more effective,” he said.
The Middle East, however, remains the site of the Pentagon after the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
International obligations “require us to make continuous changes in our situation in the Middle East, but we remain able to send troops quickly to the region based on the threat,” Karlin said.
Speaking separately, a Pentagon official who declined to be named, downplayed any idea of a major shift.
“In the first year of administration, it is not the time when we will have a big change in our situation,” the official said.
However, the official added that the Biden team saw fit to review it following the shocking actions of its predecessor Donald Trump, who suddenly changed American ties.
Under Trump, “there was often a decline in utilization and negotiation of partners, which undermined US credibility and hard-earned trust,” the official said.
Officials declined to comment on how the state of affairs is examining the presence of US troops in ongoing conflict areas such as the Middle East, East and West Africa, and Eastern Europe.
But they have confirmed previously announced plans to do more in Guam and Australia.
“In Australia, you will see the deployment of new rotational fighter planes and grenades, you will see low power training and growing material cooperation,” Karlin said.
Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Australia will also be upgraded with airports and gas stations, ” she said.
Asked if the review saw an increase in US presence in the Pacific region, Karlin said: “We are moving the needle a bit.”
“And I’d like to imagine that, in the years to come, you’ll see that the needle goes a long way,” she said.