By Michael E. O’Hanlon, Director of Research, Foreign Policy
Reviewed by John Sylvester
With the drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the great change in American strategy appears to be a rebalancing in East Asia and the Pacific to counter the rise of China. In his Brookings article O’Hanlon examines the budgetary costs of the new Navy, Marine, and anti-missile deployments and concludes that they are modest, and, moreover, “sequestration will very likely cut about as much from our regional capability as the rebalancing will add.”
He totals the costs of Marines rotating through Australia, long range missile interceptors in Alaska, new Navy attack submarines and Littoral Combat Ships, and a general 10 percent increase of Navy ships in the Pacific as running to about $10 to $12 billion. This is not insignificant, but sequestration will take about $50 billion out of the Pentagon’s annual budget, with about one-third of that coming out of military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Chinese have seen the “rebalancing” as a counter against themselves. Their own defense budget has, however, been growing annually in an amount about equal to our one-time costs for the rebalancing. O’Hanlon concludes they should have few worries about the military balance tipping against them. American conservative defense hawks should be worrying about what Republican congressional tactics are doing to our side of the military balance.