US troops could shift to Asia-Pacific as China threat increases

Troops stationed in Germany could be redeployed to U.S. bases in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, Japan, Australia

U.S. troops (Pixabay photo)

U.S. troops (Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. military could be realigning its forces with the intention of putting more focus on the Indo-Pacific region in order to counter China’s increasing threat.

Several thousand troops currently stationed in Germany may be moved to U.S. bases in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, Japan, and Australia, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. To counter China and Russia, “U.S. forces must be deployed abroad in a more forward and expeditionary manner than they have been in recent years, wrote White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien in an editorial for the Wall Street Journal last month.

The Trump administration announced on June 16 its intention of reducing the number of troops stationed in Germany from 34,500 down to 25,000, according to the BBC. The 9,500 troops could be reassigned to other locations in Europe, redeployed to the Indo-Pacific region, or sent back to bases in the U.S., the Nikkei Asian Review said.

In regards to the Indo-Pacific region, O’Brien said Americans and allies face the most significant geopolitical challenge since the end of the Cold War. In 2019, Beijing reported an official defense budget of just under $178 billion, while the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates actual spending to have been around $261 billion, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

At the core of China’s defense strategy is anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), which focuses on deterring American ships and planes from approaching the country’s shores. With this in mind, Beijing has been upgrading its precision missile systems and sophisticated radar capabilities, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Analysts have observed three trends with the U.S. military’s global operations: A geopolitical shift from Europe and the Middle East to Asia-Pacific, a shift from land-based combat to an air and sea concept, and a desire to keep defense spending down, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

In terms of the second trend, U.S. military strategy has been shifting focus more to the Navy and Air Force as the threat of large-scale ground attack in Europe has been dialed back. Announced in 2010, the air and sea battle concept aims to counter China’s A2/AD defenses using long-range bombers and submarines, reported the Nikkei Asian Review.

In a confrontation with China, the battlefield would be in the waters of the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This makes amphibious marines in addition to maritime and aviation capability of utmost importance.

However, President Trump’s plan to reduce the number of troops in Germany could be blocked by the U.S. Congress, as some are concerned it could weaken NATO, according to Defense News.