Update (Sunday 2 PM) – Leon Panetta gave a speech on Saturday in Singapore and warned:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday that he expects conflict and disputes with China as the United States bolsters forces in the Pacific.
Outlining the U.S. shift to Asia from the Middle East, Panetta said the Pentagon is seeking to cooperate with China and does not intend to counter China’s rise.
“So that’s what we’re intent on doing here with China, is to build that kind of relationship recognizing that we’re going to have disputes, recognizing that we’re going to have conflicts, but also recognizing that it is in the interest of both China and the United States to resolve these issues in a peaceful way,” Panetta said during a speech to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue meeting of defense ministers and military officials.
Editor’s Note - Why this big push in recent months to leave the middle East and move our military assets to SE Asia?
Hillary Clinton pressed the reset button with Myanmar (Burma), Panetta put a military base in Australia, our military has been on countless joint exercises with Japan and South Korea….and Panetta is moving 60% of our naval assets to SE Asia and he is in Vietnam today…what is all this telling us?
Tensions are high from North Korea, to Taiwan, to the Spratly Islands, and there is a long history of bad relations between Vietnam and China. Do these tensions coupled with monetary and economic strife bode negatively?
Are we about to tell China that we are gonna default on a few payments in the months ahead; will this be considered an act of war? If China and Russia go off the ‘Petro-Dollar’, what’s our next step? Will this mean the demise of the Dollar, and therefore our collapse?
Knowing these very conditions exist or may happen soon, are we preparing for war against China? China is building up rapidly, and new revelations about Chinese military moves and might pop up almost daily.
SUA analysts cannot know the motivations for sure, but there are too many symptoms that cannot be over-looked. We encourage your thoughts, comment below please.
SINGAPORE — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, seeking to persuade a skeptical audience of Asian officials here on Saturday that the United States is committed to enhancing its military presence in the region despite coming budget constraints, unveiled the most detailed inventory to date of planned new weapons for the region.
The Navy, Mr. Panetta said, would reconfigure its forces from a 50-50 split between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific to 60 percent of the Navy’s assets assigned to the Pacific Ocean.
The renewed emphasis on the Pacific would involve six aircraft carriers, and a majority of the Navy’s cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines. These would be fortified by an increase in the number and size of military exercises in the Pacific, and a greater number of port visits.
Mr. Panetta outlined the inventory in a speech to Asian defense ministers, uniformed officers, analysts and contractors at the annual meeting here of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The list did not contain previously undisclosed weapons systems but represented a fuller public description and compilation of what the Obama administration has called the “pivot” toward Asia, a word that some Asian countries have complained is confusing. In deference to the unease, Mr. Panetta referred to a “rebalancing” toward Asia.
“Make no mistake — in a steady, deliberate and sustainable way — the United States military is rebalancing and brings enhanced capabilities to this vital region,” Mr. Panetta said.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies, he said, projected that for the first time this year, total military spending by all countries in Asia would surpass that of all military expenditures in Europe.
Some nations represented at the gathering have expressed skepticism that given the budget demands in Washington, the Obama administration would be able to deliver on its promises.
Others have questioned the wisdom of the stepped-up military emphasis, arguing that it appears intended to force a confrontation with China, a situation feared by many countries in the region, all of which enjoy strong trade ties with China.
As Obama administration officials have said in the past, Mr. Panetta insisted the renewed American interest in the Asia Pacific region was not aimed at China. But few in the audience said they believed that.
“What worries us is having to choose — we don’t want to be put in that position,” said the foreign minister of Indonesia, Marty Natalegawa. “The Pacific is sufficiently accommodating to provide not only for the role of China and the United States but of emerging powers, too.”
Despite Mr. Panetta’s insistence that the planned military increase in the Asia-Pacific region would be protected from the $500 billion cut ordered by President Obama in the Pentagon budget over the next 10 years, some delegates at the conference said the buildup was vulnerable to automatic spending cuts that could come into effect early next year.
In an agreement made between the White House and Congress last year, an additional $600 billion in cuts to the military over the next decade, under a process known as sequestration, will be required if Congress and the White House fail to reach agreement on an alternative measure to cut the budget deficit after the presidential election.
“The administration continues to say it is bolstering the military presence in Asia, but if sequestering takes place you have to believe it will affect budgets and deployments in Asia-Pacific,” said Bonnie Glaser, a delegate and senior fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Among the specific new weapons Mr. Panetta mentioned were the advanced fifth-generation aircraft known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the enhanced Virginia-class fast-attack submarine that can operate in shallow and deep waters, new electronic warfare and communications capabilities, and improved precision weapons.
Such weapons would give the United States the freedom to maneuver in areas where access was denied, Mr. Panetta said. This was an indirect reference to China’s efforts to develop an “anti-access, area-denial” policy using diesel electric attack submarines and other weapons that curb the United States ability to get close to China’s shores.
The new panoply of weapons specially designed for the distances of the Pacific included an aerial-refueling tanker, a bomber, and advanced maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Mr. Panetta said.
Mr. Panetta was accompanied by an unusually heavyweight American delegation that included the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey; Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, the commander of the United States Pacific Command; and William J. Burns, deputy secretary of state.
In contrast, China sent a much weaker lineup than last year when the defense minister, Gen. Liang Guanglie, attended. The top Chinese official at the conference on Saturday was Lt. Gen. Ren Haiquan, the vice president of the Academy of Military Science of the People’s Liberation Army.
The reason for the relatively low level of Chinese representation was a subject of wide speculation. Some delegates said they thought the domestic political uncertainties involving the senior Communist Party leadership party leadership kept senior officials at home.
John Chipman, the chief executive of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the gathering after Mr. Panetta spoke that the Chinese had informed him last month that domestic priorities had made it difficult for them to send a full delegation.