It’s fair for critics to ponder whether the United States, in a time of fiscal austerity and military restructuring, can fulfill the objectives it has set out in its new defense strategy that calls for a “rebalance” of US military forces to the Asia-Pacific region, said Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Oct. 3. However, the US plan is indeed deliberate and, in the coming months, nations and observers will see actions match the rhetoric as the United States disengages military forces from Afghanistan, said Carter in remarks at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. This will “free up resources” to build partnerships and establish rotations in the Asia-Pacific, he said. Carter specifically mentioned that airborne ISR and remotely piloted aircraft would likely be part of the military forces redeployed in the Pacific. He also noted that B-1 bombers would begin rotating to the region to augment the B-52s already on continuous rotation there at Guam. Carter’s comments were similar to the speech he gave in September at AFA’s Air & Space Conference: see Perimeter Defense and Pacific Focus.
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.