Willard: U.S. Welcomes Rotations, Not Bases, in Asia-Pacific

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2012 — The Unit­ed States has no inter­est in estab­lish­ing new mil­i­tary bases in Asia and the Pacif­ic, but wel­comes oppor­tu­ni­ties to rotate forces there and would con­sid­er doing so in the Philip­pines, if offered, the top U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cer in the region said today.

“We would wel­come dis­cus­sions with the Philip­pines along those lines, but there’s no aspi­ra­tion for bases in South­east Asia,” Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, the U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand com­man­der, said at the For­eign Press Club here. 

Willard called the ongo­ing strate­gic-lev­el dia­logue between the Defense Depart­ment and the Philip­pine defense min­istry part of “episod­ic” engage­ments focused on the two coun­tries’ alliance and ongo­ing mil­i­tary cooperation. 

“For a long time, we’ve been work­ing close­ly with the armed forces of the Philip­pines to seek a broad­er bal­ance in the capa­bil­i­ties with­in the Philip­pines,” he told reporters. 

This, he said, rec­og­nizes that issues such as mar­itime secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty are as impor­tant as the army-cen­tric coun­terin­sur­gency and coun­tert­er­ror­ism coop­er­a­tion there. “We are inter­est­ed in the Philip­pines in a mar­itime sense becom­ing increas­ing­ly self-suf­fi­cient, and we’ll help where we can,” he said. 

Asked direct­ly if the Unit­ed States would ever reestab­lish a per­ma­nent base at Subic Bay, once a major U.S. naval base, Willard made clear it’s high­ly unlike­ly. The base, which closed in the ear­ly 1990s, was once the largest U.S. Navy instal­la­tion in the Pacific. 

“There is no desire nor view right now that the U.S. is seek­ing bas­ing options any­where in the Asia-Pacif­ic the­ater,” he said. 

Willard called Australia’s and Singapore’s offers for the Unit­ed States to rotate forces there much more attrac­tive. These arrange­ments enable Pacif­ic Com­mand to more con­ve­nient­ly and less expen­sive­ly main­tain a pres­ence clos­er and more con­ve­nient to poten­tial con­tin­gen­cies in the region, he said. 

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Julia Gillard announced in Novem­ber that begin­ning in the mid­dle of this year, com­pa­ny-size rota­tions of 200 to 250 U.S. Marines will begin deploy­ing near Dar­win in Australia’s North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry for six-month rota­tions. Gillard said the pres­ence will expand to a force of 2,500 over the next sev­er­al years. 

In addi­tion, Sin­ga­pore has invit­ed the Unit­ed States to for­ward-deploy lit­toral com­bat ships there. For­mer Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates first announced that plan at last year’s annu­al Asia Secu­ri­ty Con­fer­ence in Singapore. 

Mean­while, the Unit­ed States con­tin­ues work­ing to estab­lish clos­er mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ties with Chi­na, Willard said. He not­ed that the rela­tion­ship is “sus­tain­ing itself” at the strate­gic lev­el but said he hopes to be able to advance it to the oper­a­tional and tac­ti­cal levels. 

“I would say there’s poten­tial there,” he told reporters. “And I’m grat­i­fied that at the strate­gic lev­el, that dia­logue has per­sist­ed. I’m not sat­is­fied that the mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship is where it needs to be.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →