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U.S. Consolidates Military Network In Asia-Pacific Region

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U.S. Consolidates Military Network In Asia-Pacific Region
Rick Rozoff

The United States has six naval fleets and eleven aircraft carrier strike groups patrolling the world's oceans and seas. The U.S. Navy is as large as the world's next thirteen biggest navies combined [1].

Washington has as many aircraft carriers as all other nations together. Russia has one; China has none. The U.S. and its NATO allies - Britain (2), Italy (2), France (1) and Spain (1) - account for 17 of 22 in service in the world. Ten of the eleven American carriers are Nimitz class nuclear-powered supercarriers, substantially larger than most all non-U.S. ones. The U.S. Navy has all ten supercarriers in the world at the moment. [2]

U.S. aircraft carriers contain 70-80 planes and are available for deployment in all the world's oceans and most of its seas. They are escorted in their carrier groups by anti-air and anti-submarine warfare guided missile destroyers, anti-submarine warfare frigates, missile cruisers with long-range Tomahawks, and nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines. The U.S. also maintains between ten and twelve naval expeditionary strike groups which include amphibious assault ships and AH-1 Super Cobra attack helicopters in addition to destroyers, cruisers, frigates, attack submarines and P-3C Orion long-range anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.

With the reestablishing of the Navy's Fourth Fleet - its area of responsibility includes Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea - two years ago after a 58-year hiatus, the U.S. has six fleets that can be dispatched to all five oceans.

The Seventh Fleet (there is no First Fleet), based in Japan, is the largest of U.S. forward-deployed fleets and consists of as many as 4060 ships, 200-350 aircraft and 20,000-60,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Its area of responsibility takes in more than 50 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from Russia's Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south, from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea, South Africa to the Korean Peninsula, the Strait of Malacca to the Taiwan Strait.

When on the occasion of accepting the Nobel Peace Prize last December President Barack Obama referred to himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the world's sole military superpower he was not guilty of hyperbole if he was of hubris. His defense budget for next year is almost half as large as world military spending for 2008, the last year for which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has compiled figures.

The U.S. has mutual defense treaties with six nations in the Asia-Pacific area: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. The Pentagon has bases in Japan and South Korea, troops and base camps in the Philippines, satellite surveillance sites in Australia and the use of air bases in Thailand.

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Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are included in the American global missile interceptor network with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and ship-based Standard Missile-3 deployments in those four nations. Last December it was announced that the U.S. will supply Taiwan with 200 Patriot anti-ballistic missiles and the following month it was revealed that Washington will also provide Taiwan with eight frigates capable of being upgraded to fire Standard Missile-3 interceptors. [3]

Last week the head of the Missile Defense Agency, Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, told the U.S. Congress that, as Reuters summarized it, "Japan remains fully committed to building a linchpin multibillion-dollar missile interceptor with the United States," despite hopes to the contrary entertained after the Democratic Party of Japan's Yukio Hatoyama became prime minister last September.

Referring to the current Standard Missile-3 enhancement program, O'Reilly said that Japanese government officials "have indicated that they are in full support and their commitments are solid."

In regards to the upgraded interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA, he added, "Within the next year, we will begin our discussions on production arrangements between the United States and Japan." [4]

On April 27 the U.S. renewed a military logistics agreement with Australia "allowing deployed Australian forces to exploit the vast logistics capability of the American military" and permitting "U.S. forces on operations to make use of Australian logistics."

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"Since its inception, the agreement had ensured supply support and services to Australian and U.S. forces deployed to all parts of the world wherever they were operating together....That included mutual support during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan." [5]

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Marine General James Cartwright, is visiting New Zealand this week to consult with the country's top military commanders and defense minister.

Cartwright is "the first vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to visit New Zealand since the position was established" in 1986. [6] His visit comes two weeks after NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, made similar trips to New Zealand and Australia.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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