Saturday, 4 June 2011

U.S. Military To Maintain A "robust" Presence Across Asia

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Saturday vowed the U.S. military would maintain a "robust" presence across Asia backed up with new high-tech weaponry to protect allies and safeguard shipping lanes.

It was quite evident that Mr Gates was going out of the way to assuage any concerns that American allies might have about the shifting power structure in favor of China. He made it amply clear that irrespective of what happens in Afghanistan USA will not abandon it allies in this region.

Secretary Gates who relinquishes office this month stated that America will maintain its presence not only in North-East Asia but in South-East too. They will increase the number of port calls as well as military exercises, sharing of intelligence and training programs to keep this part of the world safe.

Citing investments in new radar-evading aircraft, surveillance drones, warships and space and cyber weapons, Gates said the United Sates is "putting our money where our mouth is with respect to this part of the world - and will continue to do so." The planned weapons programs represented "capabilities most relevant to preserving the security, sovereignty, and freedom of our allies and partners in the region," he said. The programs also include maintaining America's nuclear "deterrence" amid continuing concern over North Korea's atomic weapons.

Siting an example he said US Navy has already deployed its new LCS ships in the Indian Ocean which clearly shows the intent of the US Navy. Though Mr. Gates tried his best to bring out the importance of maintaining shipping and trading routes for USA and thus the need for USA to take care of its allies in this region still the fact of the matter is China is rising rapidly. Some commentators are quite smug and say China is far behind US in technology. That might be true but if a war or conflict comes, imagine China fighting in Asia with all the bases it has got in mainland China and US fighting with one base in Japan and another in South Korea. Japanese base will be the first one to be attacked by the Chinese and the South Korean base is too far off to be of any real use.

In such a scenario the technological gap or dis-advantage will be nullified. Plus Chinese army is not a dads army is it? It is one of the stronger forces that USA will come across. Remember what they did to the US armies 50 years back in Korea. Therefore Secretary Gates cannot escape the fact that the advantage he talks about is now very small and with every passing year it is getting even smaller.

Secretary Gates clearly stated that after he took over he made it a point to renew ties with old allies like Japan and South Korea while making new ones with Vietnam and India. Still he did not touch upon the fact that this new alliance he talks about is fragile to say the least with sharp differences and regional problems. India will never trust USA as long as it keeps supplying weapons to the Pakistanis their old rivals. Russia has already shown its intense displeasure by insulting Indian Navy because it sees India tilting toward America. India cannot afford that either.

So the problems remain plenty and Secretary Gates is leaving the ship when it looks like the tides have turned against USA in Asia. Beware India you might find yourself alone when faced with the Chinese in battle.

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