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HASC Hearings Focus on Asia-Pacific Rebalance

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Will Examine Critical Issues of Policy Implementation and China's Counterspace Program

Tomorrow the House Armed Services Committee will hold two hearings on the President's Asia-Pacific rebalance and the challenges facing the U.S. and its allies and partners in the region.

The Full Committee hearing on Rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific Region: Examining its Implementation will examine the execution of the policy and key issues associated with it.

"When the President framed rebalance, he discussed how we could now safely turn our attention to Asia because the war in Afghanistan was receding and al Qaeda was on the path to defeat. I'm concerned those conditions haven't panned out. Violence and instability rage in the Middle East and Africa. Preserving forces, readiness, and capabilities in the Asia-Pacific means less elsewhere,"Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon said. "Can we afford to take the risk in CENTCOM or AFRICOM? Budget cuts only exacerbate the problem and in two years we're back to sequestration levels and military leaders are left with no choice but to cut end-strength, readiness, and capabilities. And that has consequences for our security and military commitments in PACOM and across the globe, unless we adequately resource defense."

The Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces will jointly meet for a hearing the People's Republic of China's Counterspace Program and the Implications for U.S. National Security.

"China's efforts to restrict free access to the global commons, including in outer space, pose a serious challenge to stability in the Asia-Pacific. Providing our military with the resources needed to counter potential asymmetric threats to US space assets must be a critical priority for the Defense Department and the Congress," Seapower and Projection ForcesSubcommittee Chairman Randy Forbes (VA) said.

"In 2007, the Chinese explosively revealed their counterspace program to the world by blowing their own satellite out of the stars. While the foreign threats are real, serious, and increasing, I don't believe we are responding with real defenses and deterrence. We will do so in my FY15 Mark, and this hearing, and these experts, will help us chart a course to ensure that our space capabilities, and warfighters who depend on them, will continue to be assured," Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers (AL) said.

The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt in an editorial today outlined the challenges of trying to rebalance the military's focus to the Asia-Pacific while the U.S. defense budget continues to shrink:

… "For the United States, it's a classic challenge of alliance management: be firm enough to deter any aggression by a potential foe without being so unequivocal as to encourage reckless behavior by an ally.

In this case, the best way to walk that fine line is to be more, not less, present in the region. If the nations of East and Southeast Asia know they can count on a U.S. presence, they are more likely to band together to quietly resist Chinese bullying. Neighboring countries are less likely to worry about the Japanese military modernization, which the United States favors. Japan is likelier to respond with forbearance to Chinese provocations, and China and Korea are likelier to defuse their tensions.

Such calculations were behind a policy, articulated during Obama's first term by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her assistant secretary for Asia Kurt Campbell, of a U.S. pivot to Asia. Unfortunately, many Asian officials now seem unsure how real that pivot is. They see the U.S. defense budget cut while China's grows, a second-term foreign policy team focused on other regions, a mood of withdrawal in the U.S. capital. Their inclination is to hedge their bets -- to plan for a world with diminished U.S. leadership.

In such a world, fights over what to call the body of water between Korea and Japan would be the least of our worries."

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