ADMIRAL JOSEPH W. PRUEHER, U.S. NAVY
COMMANDER IN CHIEF
UNITED STATES PACIFIC COMMAND
BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MAY 7, 1998
Mr. Chairman and members of this Committee, on behalf of the men and
women of the United States Pacific Command, thank you for this
opportunity to present my perspective on security in the Asia-Pacific
Financial crisis. As this Committee is fully aware, Asia is in the
midst of a serious financial crisis. Some might even say it is a
broader economic crisis. It is important that this financial crisis
also be understood in security terms. We have seen early signs of
instability in Indonesia and have concerns about the situation in
other countries as well. As President Clinton said in his State of the
Union address, a secure, stable Asia is in America's interest. Our
military presence and our military-to-military contacts throughout the
region undergird overall security and stability in the region.
Security alliance with Japan. Our alliance with Japan continues to be
the most important U.S. security relationship in the region. The
signing of the revised Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation
in 1997 enhances this relationship. Japanese host-nation support for
U.S. forces is a critical part of U.S. military presence in Asia and
meets Congressional goals for burden-sharing.
China. China's growing economic and military power is a major issue
for regional leaders. The past year brought improvements in U.S.-China
relations. Carrying out the policies of the Secretary of Defense and,
in conjunction with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S.
Pacific Command worked successfully to improve our
military-to-military relationship with the People's Liberation Army.
Our goal is to lay a foundation for a relationship based on mutual
understanding, trust, and increased openness. Along with the U.S.,
China will play an enormous role in determining if the next century is
one of conflict or cooperation. On the subject of Taiwan, we recognize
from China's perspective this is a core sovereignty issue, while China
recognizes that the United States is committed to the peaceful
resolution of Taiwan issues. I am personally optimistic for the growth
of the U.S.-China relationship; however, we must continue to deal with
China from a position of strength, combined with respect, and not have
unrealistic expectations. This is a long-haul process.
Korean peninsula. The Korean peninsula remains a volatile flashpoint.
U.S. and South Korean troops would be in harm's way in the first hour
of a conflict but are key to rapid conflict resolution. Our 37,000
troops stationed on the Peninsula and our alliance with the Republic
of Korea have deterred North Korea from offensive action for 45 years.
U.S. forces on the Peninsula, coupled with our reinforcement
capabilities and ROK forces, are adequate for this task. The goal is
eventually to facilitate a non-cataclysmic end to this situation. We
must stay the course of deterring conflict, providing food aid,
engaging in four-party talks, and supporting the Korean Peninsula
Energy Development Organization, particularly in light of North
Korea's continued economic deterioration.
Readiness and OPTEMPO. U.S. Pacific Command's forward-deployed forces
are ready to execute assigned missions, but significant deficiencies
exist under a "two major theater wars" scenario. In 1997, U.S. Pacific
Command Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps components all
reported shortages of personnel in some units. Although components
have overcome these problems in the short term, readiness for deployed
forces is increasingly achieved at the expense of non-deployed forces.
Currently, some forces required for long-term commitments in the
Asia-Pacific area of responsibility are positioned in the Persian
Gulf. Any reduction in personnel, equipment, or funding would
significantly erode our capabilities in the Pacific. With some minor
exceptions, we have been able to manage the operational tempo
(OPTEMPO) for forces under U.S. Pacific Command, because we are
accountable for and can trade off between training and operations.
There are no firm indicators that the forces are "wearing out."
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list