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House committee discusses rebalance of forces

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The importance of the rebalance of military forces to the Asia Pacific Region was the subject of a hearing before the full House of Committee of Armed Services members.

It was described as the most important region of the 21st Century. But despite its importance there have been delays with the implementation of the military's strategy to rebalance its forces to the Asia Pacific Region.  Delays Guam delegate Madeline Bordallo is concerned that the delays could have an impact on how Japan views the United States.

Bordallo said, "What impact has the delays in the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam had on our political capital and regional credibility now this is an issue that was raised in last years CSIS report on the rebalance of our military to the Asia Pacific Region Im concerned that we are losing credibility by the obstruction that we continue to face from the US Senate. And this feeds the overall perception that the US is not serious about the rebalance which couldn't be further from the truth."

Retired US Navy admiral Gary Roughead said, "I would say that as I look at it its probably less about the forces that may be moving around and more about the inability to lock down on a coherent strategy and the actions that support a strategy. That's the issue that I think people look at and scratch their heads."

And Dr James Shin of the School of Engineering at Princeton University said, "I think you're absolutely right that the failure to move forward on this has done a lot of damage to our credibility in the past much less it's sort of a big test point for whether the so called Asia rebalancing is a real strategy or whether its just a speech."

The congresswoman meantime also discussed a letter she co-signed with several of her colleagues on the committee to national security advisor Susan Rice requesting clear interagency guidance enabling a broad effort to empower departments and agencies to implement this rebalance strategy. Bordallo said, "Is there some example that we can use as a template that we can use for developing guidelines for the rebalance."

Dr. Patrick Cronin is the Center for a new American Security's senior advisor and senior director of its Asia program. "We did 3 reports out of DOD in the 1990's we need to do a fourth one and it needs to be more detailed and there can be a classified one for government purposes  and there can be an unclassified one for public purposes," he said.

Roughead said, "The only thing that I would add it needs to take into account more than just the department of defense because of the many many interests that are in play, economic, diplomatic and I think that there are real opportunities but it's a question of can if the rebalance and strategic objective we have in Asia are the real thing then how do we come together as a nation apply the appropriate resources to achieve the ends that w seek for a prosperous Asia."

Bordallo said the hearing was important to better articulate our country's strategic interests in the region, adding the panel of witnesses  emphasized that more than the economic opportunities and improved diplomacy that will abound, the real purpose of this rebalance is to promote regional security and stability.

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