Pacific Stance

The shift of US forces in the Pacific, such as the movement of marines from Okinawa to Guam, reflects “the strong desire to balance the forces more effectively into Southeast Asia and South Asia,” said Adm. Robert Willard, head of US Pacific Command. “Right now, all permanently garrisoned forces outside of Guam and those in Singapore are, by and large, in Northeast Asia,” Willard told the House Armed Services Committee last week. He noted that it is “inconsequential,” whether US forces in the region are permanently based there or rotational. “What is most important” is that the forces “are maintained at a readiness level where they can be the first responders” in the region, he said. He added, “So they have to dwell there long enough to be trained and exercised and equipped, [and] resourced and engaging on a fairly continuous basis.” Since there is little appetite with partners in South and Southeast Asia for permanent bases, Willard said he thinks a presence of rotational forces, such as the recently announced marine rotation to Australia, “will be very effective.” (Willard prepared statement)