The Defense Department will have to prioritize—and continue to fund—posture changes for US forces as well as focus on technology gaps as it looks to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, senior DOD officials told the House Armed Services Committee on Jan. 28. As the Afghan war winds down, the Air Force and Navy will rebalance their forces “to roughly a 60-40 orientation,” with more forces deployed to the Asia-Pacific than US Central Command, said Navy Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe, director for strategic plans and policy on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The US also needs to ensure its most capable forces are deployed and operating in US Pacific Command, and that research and development dollars address “emergent challenges” in the region. Frank Kendall, the deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition technology and logistics, said that China’s investments are growing, due in part to the fact that it doesn’t invest as much of its budget in personnel accounts compared to the US. Since returning to the Pentagon four years ago, after a 15-year absence, Kendall said he has been struck by the “nature, scope, and quality” of Chinese investment in anti-access and area-denial tools. “Over the last four years… nothing has changed that initial impression.”
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.