Pentagon plans to improve airfields in Guam and Australia to confront China

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A Pentagon paper has outlined US military plans to upgrade Australian bases

The Pentagon wants to improve bases in Guam and Australia to counter China following a review of U.S. military resources around the globe.

The Global Posture Review (GPR), of which an unclassified version is set to be released later on Monday, “directs additional cooperation with allies and partners who advance initiatives that contribute to regional stability and deter Chinese military aggression,” including “enhancing infrastructure in Guam and in Australia,” a senior defense official told reporters.

Such improvements are set to start next year and include airfields that would aid the Defense Department in quickly moving troops in and out of the region for drills, deployments or a possible conflict.

Notably, the review does not significantly reshuffle forces to confront Beijing or tackle other challenges, including an aggressive Russia and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.

Asked about any planned troop movements based on these threats, the official would not comment “on specific force numbers or assets” but emphasized that the Indo-Pacific region is a “priority theater.”

“China is the pacing challenge for the department and I think you’ll see a strong commitment in the forthcoming [National Defense Strategy] … that will guide further posture enhancements,” the official said

Ordered by President Biden in February, the GPR is one of several defense-policy reports set to be released in the next several months that will influence where the administration places its assets and forces worldwide.

Such reviews are made all the more important with recent upheavals in the world, including the Biden administration’s disastrous end to the United States’ military presence in Afghanistan, China’s increased military aggression toward Taiwan and a threatening Russian military buildup near the border with Ukraine. 

Though they could not offer any concrete details on where U.S. defense assets might be moved, the defense official stressed that the GPR’s guidance “will manifest itself through dozens if not hundreds of routine posture related decisions over the next two to three years.”

The review also has prompted Biden to rescind a cap of 25,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany, a restriction put in place last year by the Trump administration.

The defense official also said the Pentagon in August notified Belgium and Germany that the United States will keep its forces at seven sites previously designated for return to host nations under an infrastructure consolidation plan.

In addition, the review examined requirements to support French-led counterterrorism efforts in Africa “and has a set of recommendations that are classified moving forward to support our allies and partners on the continent.”

Source: The Hill

Tony Simon

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