As defense officials say, the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China rarely changes drastically, but this year’s report highlights a continued drive toward greater power projection. And, that, is “worth noting,” Peter Rodman, DOD’s point man for international security affairs, told reporters Tuesday. The report states that since the 1990s, Beijing continually has increased the rate of its defense budget growth well beyond its economic growth. This past March, China said the 2006 defense share would be 14.6 percent greater than in 2005. This push for military modernization is “heavily” weighted toward “a force capable of prosecuting a range of military operations in Asia—well beyond Taiwan,” notes the report. Among these improvements are ICBMs “capable of striking targets across the globe, including in the United States,” as well as air and naval force improvements “scoped for operations beyond Taiwan.”
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.