SINGAPORE: US forces will increasingly use temporary military bases in Asian countries and around the globe, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here yesterday as he sought out allies for his nation's evolving defence strategy.
Wolfowitz outlined to regional defence ministers, armed forces chiefs and academics at the Asian Security Conference some of the factors Washington was considering as it reviewed its global military “footprint.”
“To adapt to a world where potential threats have become more unpredictable, we are placing a greater premium on mobility and the ability to move from existing bases at great speed and using temporary base solutions as needed,” Wolfowitz said.
The much-publicised US military review following the Sept 11attacks and the just-ended military campaign in Iraq has raised speculation of a dramatic realignment of US forces in the Asia-Pacific.
The vast majority of American soldiers in the region are currently stationed in South Korea and Japan, but media reports have suggested the United States is considering forging a stronger presence in the Philippines, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Wolfowitz stressed to the delegates that Washington had yet to settle on a final plan.
“Many studies have been done, many ideas have been considered, but no decision has been made,” he said.
“Before making decisions, we need to consult both with our own Congress and with our allies and friends in the region, and that process is underway.”
Wolfowitz had already denied on Friday a Los Angeles Times report that the United States was considering moving 15,000 of its 20,000 Marines now in Okinawa, Japan, to bases in Australia.
“There are things in that story, including speculation that we might take our forces out of Okinawa and put them in Australia, that simply are not accurate,” Wolfowitz said.
He was able to speak with most South-East Asian defence ministers at the conference, as well as Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill and Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes.
He is to travel to Seoul today for talks with South Korean military officials, and emphasised yesterday that Washington was intent on “enhancing” their bilateral alliance. – AFP
Did you find this article insightful?