ADMIRAL DENNIS C. BLAIR, U.S. NAVY
COMMANDER IN CHIEF
U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND
BEFORE THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEFENSE
ON FISCAL YEAR 2002 POSTURE STATEMENT
8 MARCH 2001
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
On behalf of the men and women of the United States Pacific Command, thank you for this opportunity to present my perspective on security in the Asia-Pacific region.
Having served as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Command (USCINCPAC) for over two years, I continue to believe, as we enter into this century, that a secure, peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region is very much in the interests of America, and the world. Alternatively, an uncertain Asia may present only crises and dangers. We base our power and influence on our values, our economic vibrancy, our desire to be a partner in this critical region, and the forward-stationed and forward-deployed forces of the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM).
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION
Since I last testified before you, developments in the region have offered promise and continuing challenges.
Japan remains our most important ally in the Asia-Pacific. Although the economy is virtually stagnant, Japan remains the second largest economy in the world and continues to have a strong economic impact on the Asia-Pacific region. Japan hosts nearly 41,000 U.S. armed forces personnel and serves as a forward-deployed site for about 14,000 additional U.S. naval personnel. Japan also contributes $4.86B in host-nation support, the most of any U.S. ally. These forward-stationed and forward-deployed forces are key for the United States to meet commitments and defend American interests throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of U.S. security interests in Asia, and it is fundamental to regional security and peaceful development.
Over the past year, we made steady progress in strengthening our alliance with Japan. The two countries signed a new 5-year Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that will take effect on April 1, 2001. While the utilities cost-sharing levels are down slightly from the previous SMA, the new agreement provides for the same levels of labor cost-sharing and training relocation costs as those of the previous SMA.
Over the past year, working groups took the first steps to implement the Defense Guidelines. In addition, Japan’s Diet passed the final piece of Defense Guidelines related legislation: a law authorizing the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to conduct ship inspections to enforce UN sanctions. Now that a site for the replacement facility for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has been selected in northern Okinawa, detailed discussions have begun over the type and scale of the facility. U.S. and Japan ballistic missile defense cooperation continued on Navy Theater Wide research.
On February 9, 2001, USS GREENVILLE collided with the fishing vessel Ehime Maru, resulting in the loss of the ship and nine lives, including students. The U.S. Government and Navy have apologized to the Government of Japan and the families of the victims, are evaluating the feasibility of raising the vessel, and will provide compensation to the victims. The Navy has convened a Court of Inquiry to examine the events contributing to the incident and accountability. The U.S. and Japan have a strong bilateral relationship whose enduring strength has benefited both sides for close to half a century. We believe we will be able to move forward from this tragedy in the interests of both nations and our peoples.
The roles and capabilities of the JSDF are slowly evolving to meet future challenges. The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force provided a 45-man transportation unit as part of the Golan Heights UN Disengagement Observer Force. The JSDF has also worked closely with USPACOM components to restructure bilateral exercises to develop skills for humanitarian assistance, search-and-rescue, non-combatant evacuation, consequence management for chemical, biological and nuclear incidents, and complex contingency operations that are likely to occur in the future. JSDF is sending observers to TEAM CHALLENGE, a linked series of exercises addressing these missions and involving several Asia-Pacific nations. I am also encouraged by the increased attention that the JSDF is giving to cooperating with regional armed forces – the Republic of Korea in particular.
I remain deeply concerned about the Shinkampo private industrial waste incinerator abutting Naval Air Facility Atsugi. While dioxin levels have fallen significantly since Shinkampo completed the installation of bag house filters last May, construction has not started on a 100-meter smokestack that the Prime Minister of Japan committed to building by March 2001. This situation continues to be a serious health risk to our service members and their families.
We must solve individual local issues arising from our forces based in Japan. As important, however, is that the U.S. Pacific Command and the JSDF maintain the capability to defend Japan and build the capability to operate together in order to face the common regional challenges of the future – peace operations, noncombatant evacuation operations, humanitarian relief and dealing with transnational concerns. The Defense Guidelines show the way to the future for the U.S.-Japanese alliance and we must proceed in that direction.
South and North Korea
Last year, the U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) began the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. About 37,000 U.S. troops remain stationed in the ROK to deter North Korean aggression.
Political developments in Korea have been breathtaking, highlighted by the June 2000 summit between President Kim Dae-jung and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il. Other North-South reconciliation activities included reunions between selected families separated by the war, increased aid, and agreements to increase economic links including a road and railway passing through the demilitarized zone.
At the same time, North Korea’s military training cycle in the winter and summer of 2000 was the most extensive ever, and the ongoing winter training cycle remains robust. North Korea continues to maintain 60 percent of its forces within 100km of the DMZ.
Given North Korea’s continuing significant military capabilities, the Republic of Korea and the United States must maintain the deterrent power of the Combined Forces Command (CFC). Any changes to the CFC posture must come through mutual and verifiable confidence-building measures that increase warning times for aggression.
I remain concerned about the lack of frequency clearances granted by the ROK government to U.S. forces for planning and training. For example, there are no frequencies cleared to support UAV training on the peninsula. Likewise, we are currently limited to only 126 VHF/FM frequencies for planning purposes, far short of the over 1,000 frequencies we would expect in an operational scenario. We will continue to work to resolve this deficiency.
Whatever the future holds, it remains in the interests of both the Republic of Korea and the United States to have a continued U.S. forward presence on the Korean Peninsula. Recent developments have been encouraging. The recent renewal of our Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the conclusion of the No Gun Ri investigation, and the agreement on missile guidelines reflect the mature relationship between the United States and South Korea and provide a strong foundation for future cooperation on the Korean Peninsula. The Commander in Chief of U.S. Forces Korea has also proposed a Land Partnership Plan that, once enacted by Korea, will make U.S. force presence less burdensome while enhancing training and combined warfighting capability. We also will begin negotiations for a new Special Measures Agreement that we hope would increase South Korea’s financial support for the stationing of U.S. troops in the country.
The Republic of Korea increasingly contributes to meeting regional security challenges by contributing 419 troops to peacekeeping in East Timor, consulting and cooperating with the JSDF, participating in exercises such as RIMPAC (a major, multilateral naval exercise) and PACIFIC REACH (a submarine rescue exercise also involving naval forces from Japan, Singapore and the United States), and participating as observers in TEAM CHALLENGE.
During the past year, military developments in China have been mixed. A White Paper issued in February 2000 emphasized China’s commitment to peacefully resolving its differences with Taiwan, but also specified conditions that could trigger the use of force against Taiwan. Chinese military spending increased, and Beijing continued to acquire advanced weapon systems from Russia.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is modernizing and making organizational changes in all branches of service to strengthen homeland defense, expand regional influence and support sovereignty claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea. China continues to increase its modern combat aircraft inventory and improve air defenses, particularly across the Taiwan Strait. The PLA navy conducted sea trials for eventually fielding additional surface ships and submarines, continued testing of anti-ship missiles, and received its second modern Russian guided missile destroyer. PLA ground forces continued downsizing to reduce force structure and increase mobility. The PLA missile force continued testing and fielding of newer inter-continental and short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and is building additional SRBM launch sites within range of Taiwan. China’s exercise program, while extensive, was not explicitly threatening to Taiwan.
Over the past year, we have reinitiated military relations with China on a realistic foundation. We have fashioned policies that offer China areas for productive relations, while ensuring that we can deal with a more confrontational posture, should it be necessary. We emphasize areas of mutual interest and encourage Chinese participation in regional security cooperation while maintaining that diplomacy, not armed force, should settle disputes.
We have exchanged visits between senior PLA delegations and U.S. counterparts, and ships have conducted reciprocal port visits. PLA forces participated in a search-and-rescue exercise in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, and four Chinese officials (two from the PLA and two from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) attended the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. We have invited the PLA to participate in more multinational conferences on topics involving regional security cooperation than it has chosen to attend. We carefully vet our engagement in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act.
The Taiwan armed forces also continue their restructuring and force modernization. A civilian Defense Minister now oversees the armed forces. The Taiwan military relies heavily on the United States to modernize its forces. Through last year’s arms sales, Taiwan’s armed forces increased surveillance capabilities and modernized air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-surface weapons. Taiwan is looking forward in its modernization plans by improving a number of bases and infrastructure to support acquisition of future weapons.
As Taiwan modernizes its armed forces to ensure a sufficient defense, training, inter-service interoperability and logistics support become even more important. The Taiwan armed forces will have to put resources and attention into these areas to retain the qualitative edge.
Based upon our assessments, I conclude that the changes in PLA and Taiwan military forces have not significantly altered the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan's military maintains a qualitative edge over the PLA, and the PLA still lacks the capability to invade and hold Taiwan. China maintains a quantitative edge in all branches of service, but does not have adequate power projection to quickly overcome Taiwan’s more modern air force and inherent geographical advantages, which favor defense. Beijing’s military forces, however, have the ability to inflict significant damage to Taiwan.
We expect China to accelerate military modernization, but pressing economic and social issues will temper this effort. Military modernization will not decisively alter the military situation across the Strait in the next several years. The continuing buildup of Chinese Ballistic missiles, combined with increases in accuracy, will increasingly pressure the sufficiency of Taiwan's defenses. The U.S. - China - Taiwan relationship will continue to be a critical factor in our regional engagement strategy.
U.S. military relations with India have been restricted since India’s nuclear weapons tests in 1998. Areas for military cooperation exist, however. Peacekeeping is the most promising. We have also agreed to discuss search-and-rescue, humanitarian assistance, and environmental security. The U.S. and India have also set up a working group to address counter-terrorism cooperation. The response to India’s recent earthquake demonstrated the value of cooperation, both civilian and military. We are pursuing opportunities to build a foundation for closer relations. I believe a gradual strengthening of military interaction is in the interests of both countries. The more we work with India and Pakistan, the better we can defuse tensions by supporting productive relations between those two nuclear-armed countries.
Insurgents and Communal Violence
Beyond Kashmir, which remains a flash point of tension between India and Pakistan, insurgents and communal violence affect many states in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Indonesia faces violent separatist movements in Aceh and Irian Jaya (West Papua) and sectarian violence in the Maluku Islands and Kalimantan. Intense fighting on the Jaffna Peninsula between the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan armed forces continues without significant gains by either side. Nepal faces an increasingly troublesome Maoist insurgency. For much of the year, the Philippine armed forces have battled the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and operated against hostage takers, including the Abu Sayyaf, which took American Jeffrey Schilling hostage. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Philippines are still searching for the right combination of political, economic development, and military/police measures to effectively address these insurgencies and sectarian strife.
In Fiji, a coup overthrew the democratically elected government, and the Solomon Islands have experienced separatist violence that caused a change in government and the evacuation of foreign nationals. Also, fighting among various ethnic groups on Burma’s borders, much of it connected to illegal drug trafficking, has spilled into Thailand.
Communal violence not only causes suffering and slows the political, social and economic development of countries in the region; violence also fosters terrorism, causes refugees to migrate, and creates humanitarian disasters that spill across national borders.
Indonesia is still undergoing major political, social and economic changes after 40 years of authoritarian rule.
The Armed Forces of Indonesia, or TNI, began reforms in 1999 that they have yet to complete. The reforms call for the TNI to become a professional, modern armed force, focused on external defense and divorced from political practices. The number of TNI seats in parliament has been reduced and the police force separated from the TNI. However, elements of the TNI have been reluctant to continue reforms. The TNI remains a major political force, particularly on the local level, and retains the major role in internal security. It has not brought under control the militias in West Timor, resulting in the deaths of three UN workers and a continuing security threat to East Timor, nor has it yet brought to justice any of those who orchestrated or engaged on atrocities in East or West Timor. TNI reform is an important aspect of restoring order in Indonesia in a manner that promotes democratic development and regional security.
Most interactions between U.S. and Indonesian armed forces have been suspended until there is credible progress toward accountability for East Timor human rights abuses and the return or resettlement of refugees. During the past year, limited interaction with the TNI involved a Navy humanitarian exercise and Indonesian Air Force observers at Exercise COBRA GOLD. The objectives of interaction with the TNI are to favor reform and build capability for coalition operations.
Under the protection of International peacekeepers, East Timor today is generally secure from the militias, but the work has just begun to establish a fully functioning society. Our Australian allies did a great job in leading this UN-mandated peace operation and remain the backbone of the security forces. The Philippines and Thailand have stepped forward to assume leadership of the peacekeeping forces since it became a UN operation. The U.S. armed forces continue to conduct operations in East Timor by providing liaison officers, engineers and humanitarian assistance during ship visits.
The Philippines experienced a peaceful transition of power from former President Estrada to former Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). Throughout the period of the impeachment hearings and transfer of authority, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) acted with restraint and used constitutional precepts as guiding principles.
Following the ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in May 1999, the frequency and quality of interactions between U.S. and Philippine armed forces has also improved. The AFP has actively participated in initiatives to enhance regional cooperation and promote regional security. It deserves credit for taking a leading and responsible role in East Timor, contributing ground forces to the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) coalition, providing the first force commander for the peacekeeping force of the UN Transition Authority for East Timor (UNTAET).
The United States maintains its Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines, and our defense relations have steadily improved over the past year. The Defense Experts Exchange, a consultative group established between OSD and the Philippines Department of National Defense in 1999, has made progress in identifying the Philippines’ national security and force structure needs. The talks address ways to help the Philippines increase readiness and become a more active contributor to regional security. Operations with, and assistance from, the United States cannot substitute for adequately funded armed forces, and the Philippines has not yet made the necessary investments.
The Philippines continues to face significant internal security challenges from organizations such as the MILF, the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) and the Abu Sayyaf Group. This past year, the United States initiated a $2M program using Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related (NADR) Program funds to train and equip a counter-terrorist unit that will improve the AFP’s capability to deal with hostage taking and other terrorist incidents.
A strategic ally, strongly oriented to U.S. military training and equipment, Thailand aspires to adopt force modernization and "jointness" along U.S. models. Thailand consistently responds positively to U.S. requests for access, training, and transit. Thailand is one of the nations in Asia most committed to building regional approaches to future challenges – peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and transnational concerns. Exercise COBRA GOLD in Thailand is developing into a multilateral training event to improve participating countries’ capabilities to cooperate in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.
Thailand has taken a leading Southeast Asian regional role in support of peacekeeping by maintaining battalion strength forces in East Timor. The current military commander in East Timor is Thai LTG Boonsrang Niumpradit. We support humanitarian demining in Thailand and will transfer that program over to Thailand by FY02. Joint Task Force Full Accounting Detachment-1 in Bangkok logistically anchors our POW/MIA recovery efforts throughout Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Within the last year, Thailand has requested U.S. assistance to the Royal Thai Army in combating drug traffic across the Burma-Thai border. U.S. Pacific Command is in the early stages of establishing a modest program of assistance against this common threat. Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF-WEST) is the standing task force for all counterdrug (CD) issues in the theater and has the lead to work training, equipment, and organizational coordination initiatives to assist the Thais with their CD mission.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS treaty, and Australia remains America’s closest ally in the Asia-Pacific region. Australian armed forces not only took the lead in East Timor operations, but they remain the largest part of the UN security force there. They also evacuated civilians and provided peace monitors in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. The Australian government has been active in promoting the return of democracy in Fiji and in promoting security and peaceful development throughout the archipelagic states of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Australia has also constructively engaged in dialogue with China and North Korea to promote peace in Northeast Asia.
In recognition of our special relationship, we have pursued an agreement to exempt qualified Australian firms from U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations controlling unclassified military technology.
Australia recently completed an extensive Australia Defence 2000 White Paper that clearly lays out its future defense requirements. The White Paper achieved broad national support and general bipartisan consensus through a unique consultation process that involved the public and all government agencies. The product is a plan to acquire the skills and equipment Australia will need to succeed across the full range of defense tasks, along with required funding.