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US STATIONS 1,200 SPECIAL FORCES IN ASIA-PACIFIC

Published: June 22, 2015
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Source: Want China Times

The United States Pacific Command has stationed more than 1,200 special forces troops in the Asia-Pacific along with the latest advancements in weapons technology to contain China’s rising presence in the region, reports the Beijing-based Sina Military Network.

The article points to comments made by the US defense secretary, Ashton Carter, during his recent 10-day tour of Asia-Pacific countries and attendance at the 14th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, during which he stressed the importance of the Asia Pacific to US interests, insisting that Washington is determined to create an atmosphere of trust, assist in resolving territorial disputes and ensure stability and safety in the region.

In late April, shortly before he embarked on the trip, Carter also said at a speech at Stanford University that while the US welcomes China and India’s rise, the Pentagon needs to maintain an American presence in the Asia-Pacific “because it’s a reassurance to many there” given the role of the US in maintaining peace in the region over the past 70 years.

America’s most recent national military strategy issued in February made it clear that the US is, has been and always will be a Pacific nation, adding that Washington has maintained diverse relations with various Asian countries while also strengthening its military presence in the Asia Pacific for the sake of ensuring regional security. Indeed, the US has been active in building stronger ties with Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines, and has also been exploring partnerships with Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

It is clear that the main competitor to US control of the region is China, said Sina Military, though Washington is also pursuing stronger ties with Beijing as it is in the interests of both sides. Accordingly, Washington needs to be prepared to resolve obstacles between the two sides through peaceful and diplomatic means, but it also needs to be ready for the possibility of a sudden conflict.

The arm of the US armed forces responsible for the Asia Pacific is the United States Pacific Command, whose jurisdiction also includes Alaska and the North Pole, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. In total, the area of responsibility of the Pacific Command covers 36 counties — five of which have nuclear weapons — and more than 50% of the world’s population and surface area.

The service components of the Pacific Command include the army, navy, air force, marines and special forces. In terms of the army, the US Army Pacific Command is spearheaded by the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii and Alaska. Along with forces stationed in Japan, South Korea, Alaska, Hawaii, the US Army Pacific Command controls more than 106,000 troops in the Asia-Pacific, along with more than 300 planes and helicopters, as well as five subsidiary naval fleets.

In the air, the US Pacific Air Forces have approximately 29,000 soldiers and staff as well as more than 300 aircraft stationed in Japan, South Korea, Alaska and Hawaii. On the seas, the US Pacific Fleet is powered by the Third Fleet covering the US west coast to the International Date Line, the Fifth Fleet from the Persian Gulf to the West Indian Ocean, and the Seventh Fleet headquartered in Japan, which is responsible for the Asia-Pacific region and controls 41 attack submarines, around 200 vessels and more than 600 aircraft, including five attack aircraft carrier battle groups and an amphibious battle group. The total manpower of the US Pacific Fleet is greater than 140,000.

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