US Pacific Command Facilities
U.S. bases in Japan and Korea remain the critical component of U.S. deterrent and rapid response strategy in Asia. U.S. military presence in the region also enables the United States to respond more rapidly and flexibly in other areas. The basic outlines of U.S. force presence in Japan and Korea will remain constant. Japanese peacetime host nation support (HNS) remains the most generous of any of America's allies around the world, averaging about $5 billion each year. Despite its severe financial crisis, Korea provides substantial support for maintenance of U.S. troops, recognizing like Japan that HNS is a critical strategic factor in the alliance.
Both nations continue to modernize their forces and have procured substantial amounts of U.S. equipment, services and weapons systems to enhance interoperability and cooperation between alliance forces. In fact, the U.S. has more equipment in common with Japan than any other ally.
After the closure of US bases in the Philippines in 1992, the United States has benefited from a series of access agreements and other arrangements with Southeast Asian partners that have supported continued U.S. military engagement. These arrangements, including port calls, repair facilities, training ranges and logistics support, have become increasingly important to the US overseas presence. For example, Singapore announced in early 1998 that its Changi Naval Station, which became operational in the year 2000, would be available to U.S. naval combatants and include a pier which can accommodate American aircraft carriers. In January 1998, the United States and the Philippines negotiated a Visiting Forces Agreement that, when ratified, will permit routine combined exercises and training, and ship visits. Thailand remains an important refueling and transit point for possible operations to neighboring trouble spots, including the Arabian Gulf. Australia has long provided key access to facilities for U.S. unilateral and combined exercises.
Although the US overseas presence in Asia serves both regional and U.S. security interests, the impact on local communities in host countries can be great. The United States understands and appreciates the sacrifices of the citizens who live near training areas or bases, and who sometimes endure noise and other inconveniences. U.S. forces work to mitigate these effects and coordinate closely with officials at both the national and local levels, and local citizens groups to reach mutually satisfactory arrangements.
In Japan, for instance, U.S. forces have relocated artillery training, and when possible, carrier landing practice to alleviate the inconvenience to local residents. The United States has also worked with Japan to establish quiet hours to minimize the impact of routine air operations on local communities. In both Japan and Korea, there has been a continuing effort to address environmental issues associated with its base presence. The United States has pledged to work closely with Japanese and Korean authorities to ensure U.S. military operations are carried out with due regard for the environment and public safety. The U.S. has also made progress to return base and training-related land, to alter operational procedures in host countries in an effort to respond to local concerns, and to be better neighbors.
By mid-2003 the Pentagon was planning a broad realignment of troops in Asia that may include moving Marines out of Japan and establishing a network of small bases in countries such as Australia, Singapore and Malaysia where the US has never had a substantial military presence. The 24,000 or so US troops based with their families elsewhere in Japan would remain where they were. But the Pentagon would increase the military equipment and weaponry stored and maintained at ports in Japan and elsewhere, allowing it to cut back the number of troops based in the region but leaving it able to deploy them rapidly to conflicts in the area.
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