- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a story March 25 about top U.S. military officers in the Asia-Pacific region voicing concern about the impact of budget cuts, The Associated Press incorrectly spelled the name of the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti.

A corrected version of the story is below:

US military: Budget cuts hurt readiness in Asia

US commanders say budget cuts could hurt response to security crisis in Asia

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Top U.S. military officers in the Asia-Pacific said Tuesday that budget cuts could hurt the ability of American forces to respond to a security crisis, including on the Korean peninsula.

Pacific commander Adm. Samuel Locklear said U.S. allies are carefully watching American defense spending, and are starting to question U.S. “staying power” as a guarantor of security.

Locklear and Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who commands U.S. forces in South Korea, were testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on the defense budget for 2015 that trims spending and aims for a smaller, more modern force rather than a larger one less prepared for combat.

Some in Congress, however, see that as an approach that weakens U.S. capabilities in a period of growing uncertainty in Europe and Asia. Senators in particular voiced concern about the double-digit annual growth in China’s defense spending and development of more and better warships and submarines, and the threat posed by a nuclear North Korea.

In prepared testimony, Locklear said budget uncertainties “ultimately reduce our readiness, our ability to respond to crisis and contingency as well as degrade our ability to reliably interact with our allies and partners in the region.”

Scaparrotti said U.S. forces in Korea are “fully resourced” but he voiced concern about the readiness of “follow-on” forces that would be needed if a security crisis broke out on the divided peninsula. The U.S. retains 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in an armistice rather than a formal peace treaty.

Scaparrotti said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is less predictable than his predecessor and so poses a greater threat.

He said a recent spate of tests of Scud missiles from a new, rapid-fire multiple rocket launcher were intended to demonstrate North Korea’s capabilities to the U.S. and South Korea as they hold annual military exercises.

Senators questioned Locklear about China’s increasing military capabilities that the Pacific commander said would not challenge America’s global military supremacy for decades but were giving the Asian power “the ability to influence the outcome of events around many of our partners and our allies.”

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