Statement of admiral dennis c. Blair, U. S. Navy



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STATEMENT OF

ADMIRAL DENNIS C. BLAIR, U.S. NAVY

COMMANDER IN CHIEF

U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND

BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

ON FISCAL YEAR 2001 POSTURE STATEMENT

7 MARCH 2000




INTRODUCTION

Mr. Chairman and members of this 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 USCINCPAC for just over a year, I believe that steady and focused efforts are required to ensure the region develops in ways favorable to American interests. A secure and peaceful Asia-Pacific region presents tremendous opportunities for greater prosperity in America, and in the world, as we enter into this century. Alternatively, an Asia poised for armed conflict, uncertain of the intentions of neighbors and regional powers, and subject to a rising wave of nationalism as a new generation of leaders comes to power, will present only crises and dangers. As the principal guarantor of global peace, the United States, by its actions and omissions, will strongly influence, if not determine, the outcome.


The economic, political, and military contours of the Asian landscape are evolving rapidly. Most Asian economies are now enjoying economic recovery. But one of the lessons learned from Asia’s financial turbulence in 1997 and 1998 is that we cannot take Asia’s economic prosperity for granted. A durable recovery and economic security in the region can only come when the financial and corporate restructuring process is complete. We also see reasons for economic concern in a number of key Asian countries. For instance, Japan remains trapped in slow growth. China’s economy is also struggling with weak demand and severe price deflation. We are hopeful Jakarta’s promising new budget and the recent agreement with IMF will help President Wahid turn Indonesia’s economy around. But this will be no easy task. Similarly, fractious Indian politics make it difficult for Prime Minister Vajpayee’s new Indian government to implement the kind of bold economic reforms needed to reduce high levels of poverty. Sustainable economic growth in the region is in the interest of all. It provides a favorable setting for diplomatic and military initiatives to build a security framework for the region.

There are many flashpoints in the region. Long-standing tensions threaten serious conflict in places such as Korea, the Taiwan Strait, and Kashmir. Violent separatist movements and ethnic disputes in Burma, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka set up vicious cycles of terrorism and repression within countries and threaten the region with refugee flows, export of terrorism, and crises between neighboring nations. Rapid economic development has created huge gaps in the distribution of wealth within many countries in the region. Combined with corruption and privilege, this development has caused citizens to challenge the legitimacy of ruling political regimes and has further inflamed violence between ethnic and religious groups.

Security relations among the states in the region are fluid. Fifty years after the end of World War II, the victory of Mao in China, and the beginning of independence from colonial rule, a new generation of national leaders is coming to power in Asia. Many of these leaders are reviewing the premises of their international security relations. Many bring a new nationalism based upon culture, ethnicity, and religion rather than anti-colonialism. The teachings of Marx, Lenin, and Mao no longer guide the Chinese. India has turned its attentions outward and expects to play a greater role in international politics in the coming years. Indonesia is emerging from almost four decades of authoritarian rule. Globalization increases wealth, but often offends ethnic sensitivities. Balance of power and nationalism will compete against the more enlightened views of greater security and economic cooperation to drive the future of Asia. The role the United States plays is critical to the future of Asia. In the 20th century, America fought three major wars and lost more lives in Asia than in any other theater of conflict. We need to do better in the 21st century.
U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND MISSION

Ready today and preparing for tomorrow, the U.S. Pacific Command enhances security and promotes peaceful development in the Asia-Pacific region by deterring aggression, responding to crises and fighting to win.

Over the past year, the men and women of the Pacific Command have been carrying out our mission. To deepen your appreciation for the region and our efforts to promote security, I would like to summarize key events from the past year and highlight the progress we made towards the priorities I described in my testimony last year.



EVENTS THAT SHAPED THE REGION OVER THE PAST YEAR

Since I last testified to you, numerous events have shaped security developments in the region. Let me begin with a key ally, Japan.



Japan

Despite recent setbacks, Japan remains the second largest economy in the world with a level of technology comparable to the United States. It is the country with the greatest economic impact on the Asia-Pacific region. Japan enjoys a thriving democratic system, with strict civilian control of the Self-Defense Forces and a tradition of close security cooperation with America. About half of American forces forward deployed in the Western Pacific operate from bases in Japan. Without these bases, it would be much more difficult for the U.S. to meet commitments and defend American interests throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Over the past year, we made important progress in deepening and strengthening our alliance with Japan. Shortly after I testified to you last year, Japanese Self-Defense Forces chased two North Korean boats from Japanese territorial waters across the Sea of Japan. This was the first time in 46 years Japanese forces have ever fired even warning shots at a foreign flagged vessel. This provocation, combined with North Korea’s launch of the Taepo-Dong missile over Japan the previous summer, added urgency for the Japanese Diet to pass new Defense Guidelines legislation. These guidelines will help formalize cooperation for logistical support of U.S. operations and other support to U.S. forces in response to situations in areas surrounding Japan that have an important impact on Japan's security. Additionally, this Taepo Dong launch stimulated greater Japanese cooperation with the U.S. in developing missile defense and satellite surveillance capabilities. North Korean provocations have resulted in close trilateral consultation and policy coordination among the U.S., Japan, and South Korea beginning under the leadership of former Secretary of Defense Perry. This coordination aligned our nations’ policies regarding North Korea and is contributing to unprecedented security cooperation between Japan and South Korea, establishing a pattern for future cooperation and policy coordination.

The focus with our most important ally Japan must always be on advancing and promoting the future security of the region. We must continue to tackle the tough issues that could impede strengthening this essential alliance. Over the last year, we have made progress in resolving a number of these issues. We are working with the GOJ to eliminate pollution from the Shinkampo waste disposal incinerator that affects Americans stationed at the Atsugi Naval Air Station and Japanese baseworkers and citizens, although progress is slower than both sides would wish. We also are making progress on agreements to relocate bases in Okinawa from the populated southern part of the island to the north. Other issues we are working include negotiations this month on the new Special Measures Agreement that expires March 2001, a key element of Japan’s Host Nation Support. Because of Japan’s economic problems, funds spent by the Government of Japan to support U.S. Forces have come under increased scrutiny. We have urged the Japanese to think in terms of the strategic importance of Host Nation Support to the security and prosperity of Japan and the entire region. We will continue to work with the Japanese so the alliance emerges as strong in the future as it has been in the past.



North and South Korea

President Kim Dae-jung’s forward-looking, visionary approach exemplifies a clear path to regional security. While unwavering in his commitment to deter North Korean aggression, President Kim has reached out to current and historical enemies to build a more secure future for Korea. He strongly supported U.S. efforts led by Dr. Perry and shares responsibility for successful trilateral consultations. His government has increased security dialog and cooperation with Japan and high level defense-related visits with China. Under President Kim’s leadership, Korea is coming to peace with the past in the expectation of a more prosperous future. Recognizing the obligation of all nations to contribute to collective security, his government provided substantial forces to peace operations in East Timor.

The coordinated approach to North Korea has resulted for the moment in improved behavior by that regime. The inspection of the suspected nuclear production site at Kumchangni has allayed concern over that particular facility. The most dangerous incident over the past year occurred when a fleet of North Korean fishing boats, escorted by patrol craft, repeatedly crossed the Northern Limit Line, established by the United Nations Command and treated by the ROK as a de facto maritime boundary. Several days of confrontation resulted in a significant naval battle between the two countries. U.S. Pacific Command sent ships and surveillance platforms to Korean waters in the vicinity to help monitor events and deter escalation. Since that incident, North Korea has been strident in its rhetoric, but has continued to abide by its verbal commitment not to launch missiles as long as negotiations resulting from the Perry Policy Review continue.

Though tensions on the Korean peninsula have eased recently, North Korea remains unpredictable and a serious threat to peace. It continues to enhance its military capability by forward deploying additional long-range artillery, building additional midget submarines, conducting infiltrations, and developing missiles. The scale of operations during the winter training cycle exceeded what we have observed over the past several years, demonstrating North Korea remains willing to expend sizable resources to maintain readiness to resume war with the South. Their economic plunge appears to have bottomed out, albeit at a low level. Sustaining our deterrence posture in South Korea is essential to the success of the strategy we are pursuing with North Korea.



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