WASHINGTON (AP) – After months of study, the Pentagon has decided that no immediate major changes are needed in the overall positioning of U.S. forces, although it will further analyze force requirements in the Middle East and bring improvements in Asia and the Pacific, officials said. On Monday.
The result of the study, which began in March under the leadership of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, reflects a complex security situation facing the Biden administration, which withdrew completely from Afghanistan in August but is increasingly concerned about the fight against China in the Asia-Pacific region and Russia in Europe. Iran presents another challenge, including Iraq and Syria, which makes it difficult to assign more US forces to other parts of the world.
With China in mind, the Pentagon plans to make infrastructure improvements in parts of the Pacific, including Guam. In September, the United States announced a new partnership with Australia and Britain to deepen security, diplomacy and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. As part of this AUKUS partnership, Australia is to acquire nuclear-powered submarines and the United States is to increase rotational force deployments to Australia.
Austin’s review is the first of several general assessments by the administration of its defense priorities and policies. They include a reassessment of nuclear forces – their size and composition, as well as policies associated with their potential use – which is expected to be completed early next year. The Pentagon is also working on a revised national defense strategy that would frame the full scope of defense policies, including the role of nuclear deterrence, cyber threats, international alliances, and force modernization.
The Austin study, known as the Global Posture Review, paved the way for adjustments to the positioning of U.S. forces over the next two to three years, according to a senior defense official who briefed reporters on the results. The official, who requested anonymity ahead of the Pentagon’s public announcement, said a number of force adjustments in Asia-Pacific are underway but require further consultation with foreign governments.
In April, Austin announced plans to expand the U.S. military presence in Germany by 500 troops and stop planning for the large-scale troop cuts that had been ordered by the Trump administration. At the time of Austin’s announcement, US and EU officials were expressing concern over an accumulation of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border. This crisis has subsided, but in recent weeks it has returned amid fears that Moscow is planning a military incursion into Ukraine.
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