AIR SEA BATTLE BUDGET
The Pentagon’s plan to shift the focus of U.S. military forces to Asia after disengagement in Iraq and Afghanistan got mixed support in the defense budget request released this week.
One significant indicator of budget support for the Air Sea Battle Concept unveiled in November is a plan to deploy Navy Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) to Singapore.
The new LCSs are among the Navy’s most advanced warships, designed to fight close to shores against what the military calls anti-access and asymmetric threats in those waters.
Deploying up to three of the new warships in Singapore is yet another message to China that the United States and its allies will not allow Beijing to seize control over the entire, resource-rich South China Sea.
China has privately called the sea its “driveway” and is moving its advanced naval forces, including ships, aircraft and submarines, into the region.
The Pentagon announced in November that it would deploy 2,500 Marines to a base on the northern tip of Australia, close to the South China Sea.
Another indicator of support for Air Sea Battle is the Pentagon’s decision to keep 11 aircraft carrier strike groups after considering going down to 10.
The budget also preserves funds for U.S. bombers and cruise-missile upgrades on submarines.
Additionally, the budget slashed spending on mobility aircraft needed for power projection as part of Air Sea Battle.
President Obama and his top aides this week avoided all public discussion of the dangers posed by China’s growing economic and military power during the visit this week of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who recently took the lead on U.S.-China policy from the State Department and other agencies, said during a meeting with Mr. Xi on Tuesday, “We believe that a rising China is a positive development, not only for China but also for the United States and the world.”
Mr. Biden didn’t say why, but, in remarks before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he suggested there had been “progress” on currency and trade concerns, such as rampant intellectual property theft.