05 June 2012

BUB: The "Pacific Pivot"

Lots of news these days about the US re-focusing its long-termstrategies toward the Pacific.

The US is refocusing, without trying to piss anyone off.

As the United States moves to bolster its military position in Asia, it faces severe budget cuts from Congress, an increasingly powerful rival in China and a hornet's nest of regional political sensitivities.
The shift in U.S. policy puts Asia and the Pacific front-and-center of its strategic priorities and is driven by concerns that China has raced ahead in the world's most economically dynamic region while the U.S. was tied up fighting its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in a region rife with disputes and increasingly beholden to China's economic engine, the Pentagon is being careful its "pivot to the Pacific" doesn't create too many waves.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is spearheading the U.S. effort to sell the new strategy in Asia, told regional defense leaders at a major security conference in Singapore that it is only natural for the Asia-Pacific to be in the spotlight because it is home to some of the world's biggest populations and militaries.
Before moving on to Vietnam and India, Panetta said Washington will "of necessity" rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region and vowed 60 percent of the Navy's fleet will be deployed to the Pacific by 2020. He said the U.S. presence will be more agile, flexible and high-tech. Troops may increase overall, but no major influx is expected.

And that new strategy includes significant naval investments, including the new DDG-1000 series of ships.

A super-stealthy warship that could underpin the U.S. navy's China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic "railguns" right out of a sci-fi movie.
But at more than $3 billion a pop, critics say the new DDG-1000 destroyer sucks away funds that could be better used to bolster a thinly stretched conventional fleet. One outspoken admiral in China has scoffed that all it would take to sink the high-tech American ship is an armada of explosive-laden fishing boats.
With the first of the new ships set to be delivered in 2014, the stealth destroyer is being heavily promoted by the Pentagon as the most advanced destroyer in history — a silver bullet of stealth. It has been called a perfect fit for what Washington now considers the most strategically important region in the world — Asia and the Pacific.
Some of the particulars mentioned in the article are pretty impressive.
The DDG-1000 and other stealth destroyers of the Zumwalt class feature a wave-piercing hull that leaves almost no wake, electric drive propulsion and advanced sonar and missiles. They are longer and heavier than existing destroyers — but will have half the crew because of automated systems and appear to be little more than a small fishing boat on enemy radar.
Down the road, the ship is to be equipped with an electromagnetic railgun, which uses a magnetic field and electric current to fire a projectile at several times the speed of sound.

Even the Canadians are getting into the act, with a Singapore-based logistics hub on the table.

Singapore said it was studying a proposal from Canada to set up a logistics facility in the city-state for disaster relief efforts, reportedly to support a US military shift to Asia.
Canadian Defence Minister Peter Gordon MacKay said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the proposal was part of Ottawa's efforts to back up the US military "pivot" towards the Asia-Pacific region, which has irked China.
"The Canadians have proposed setting up a logistics support hub in Singapore for their regional humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts," a spokesman for the Singapore foreign ministry told AFP on Sunday.

By: Brant

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