Chinese missile technology may force the hardening of Air Force bases and the greater dispersal of USAF aircraft in the Pacific. “I expect a degree of diffusion and hardening, a degree of mobility, that we haven’t seen before,” asserted Abraham Denmark, a former Pentagon China affairs specialist, at a Center for National Policy-sponsored event on Chinese military power Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Denmark is now a fellow with the Center for a New American Security, also in Washington. He continued, “As China is developing precision capabilities to strike our bases . . . to limit our ability to generate air sorties to project power,” the US must move beyond a “one big base” mindset to a “broader network.” While shifting forces to Guam—outside of Chinese missile range—is a first step, “at some point China’s going to be able to build precision missiles that can range Guam,” Denmark acknowledged. He underscored the importance of building relationships with partner nations, also beyond missile range, which “could potentially serve as an area to base American power projection.” The US military is “starting to think about what this looks like,” with subtle undertones in the DOD’s newly released National Military Strategy, he said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.