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Thread: New #US military bases in Asia-Pacific ‘likely to be temporary’ for troop flexibility - Former adviser to US Indo-Pacific Command chief says Pentagon wants locations that aren’t permanent to allow forces to be rotated as needed scmp.com/news/china/dip…
Any new US military bases in the Asia-Pacific region are likely to be “temporary” to maximise troop flexibility and in line with the Pentagon’s agreement with Manila, according to a former special assistant to the US Indo-Pacific Command chief.
But analysts said it would not matter if the American bases were temporary or permanent – Beijing would still take “coercive measures” in the region when it felt they were needed.
Eric Sayers, an adjunct senior fellow with the defence programme at the Centre for a New American Security, said US military bases did not have to be permanent, the most important thing was improved troop mobilisation and strategic capacity.
“[Temporary bases] are designed to build more resiliency and ensure that China does not conclude it can quickly win a war by paralysing American military power,” said Sayers, who advised the former commander, Admiral Harry Harris, on strategic engagements in the Indo-Pacific.
“For instance, we negotiated the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines in 2014 to enhance our alliance there and give it new tools to deal with Chinese maritime coercion.”
The agreement does not allow the United States to establish any permanent military bases in the Philippines, but it enables it to rotate troops into the country for extended stays, and it can build and operate facilities on Philippine bases.
“The central issue here is that these new access locations are not permanent but will give the US the flexibility to rotate forces around the theatre as they and US allies and partners see fit,” Sayers said.
US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said on Wednesday that the United States wanted to invest in more bases in the Asia-Pacific, adding to its China containment activities in the region, after saying earlier this month that the US hoped to deploy intermediate-range missiles there.
Sayers said there was an urgency to find new ways to project American power in the region as “China’s investment in a reconnaissance-strike military complex has matured”.
“We have finalised an air force agreement for access to 2 airbases in northern Australia, where we are building ramp space, munitions storage & fuel storage. This will allow us to conduct more high-end exercises with Australia & to … project combat power should the need arise.”
“Allies and partners would do best to invest in modernising their own military, especially in ways that can operate alongside and complement the United States.”
James Floyd Downes, a lecturer in comparative politics at Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the US plan to set up temporary bases could be more appealing for Southeast Asian nations.
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