Ash Carter, current Pentagon acquisition executive, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday he’d be willing to consider relocating and re-stationing overseas-based US military forces, including moving some back the United States, if he becomes deputy defense secretary. This would include addressing the proposed realignment of US troops on Guam and Okinawa, Japan, he told committee members during his nomination hearing for the Pentagon’s No. 2 post. He also said he’d work with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to find across-the-board savings for the Defense Department, including potential cuts to military personnel accounts and healthcare. Carter said the Pentagon would submit a plan to Congress this year outlining areas where DOD could absorb cuts so that the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction could take it under advisement. If that panel fails to reach a consensus and, instead, the Budget Control Act of 2011’s automatic cuts kick in, Carter said those cuts would “devastate” the military. “Just the scale of it alone would lead us to have to consider truly draconian things—abandoning major weapons systems, furloughing civilian employees, and abruptly curtailing training because we couldn’t pay for fuel, and so forth,” he explained. (See also Carter’s response to advance questions.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.