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The Pentagon’s new Air-Sea Battle concept makes Guam a key strategic military hub for operations in Asia and elsewhere by adding warships, submarines, strategic bombers and troops. But hardening the air and naval facilities has been slow.

“If you can’t make Guam a secure air and naval base, then there can be no Air Sea Battle,” said one defense official.

A group of 2,000 Marines is to be deployed on Australia, and four littoral combat ships will be deployed in Singapore. Analysts say the measures will not impress the Chinese.

“If we sent 10 ships and 20,000 Marines, that would get their attention,” said a second defense official.

One Chinese official recently was quoted by a U.S. official as calling the U.S. pivot a “hoax” because of the administration’s failure to back it up.

Meanwhile, pro-China academics are dismissing the pivot. They say it is not aimed at protecting U.S. friends and allies and freedom of navigation in Asia, but is merely a trade and diplomatic initiative with little or no military component because of the administration’s aversion to the threat or use of hard power.

U.S. fails on Russia POW search

A joint U.S.-Russia presidential commission set up in 1992 to resolve cases of missing U.S. troops is largely defunct, another casualty of the administration’s questionable reset policy with Moscow, according to prisoner of war activist and author Mark Sauter.

Mr. Sauter says there is evidence that U.S. Air Force pilots were taken to Russia during the Korean War and never returned.

“The U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC), a presidential commission supported by the Pentagon, produced important information in the 1990s, but is now essentially defunct due to Russian foot-dragging and an absence of U.S. resolve,” he wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Norm Kass, who once was a key official on the American side of the joint commission, said the Pentagon’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office failed to follow through on a Russia offer to restart POW cooperation in 2010.

“Why does the [2010] work plan that was developed – by the way, at the Russians’ suggestion and with their full concurrence – continue to lie fallow even though it offers the only serious, agreed-upon way of moving forward?” Mr. Kass, former head of the U.S. Joint Commission Support Directorate told Mr. Sauter.

According to a Pentagon fact sheet, Russia disbanded its participation in the commission in 2006 and blocked access by U.S. analysts to Russian archives. Then in January 2010, the Russians restored U.S. access to the archives. Six month later, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree setting up the Russian side of the commission again.

“I’d like to ask President Obama one question: Ex-Soviet officials admitted they took our Air Force pilots to Russia, and experts on the president’s own POW-MIA commission agreed it happened. So why – more than a decade later – don’t we have those men or their remains home?” Mr. Sauter told Inside the Ring.

Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Carie Parker declined to address cricits who say the Pentagon has not pursued work in the joint commission.

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