Whelden: CSIS report validates importance of region
Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar reiterated the importance of the CNMI—and the Marianas in general—during her meeting with Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres earlier this week.
“There’s absolutely no secret that the CNMI is a vital asset and a significant value to our national security. The fact that we’re collaborating with them…the CNMI, Guam, everything in the Joint Marianas is important to us and contributes to our national security. The fact that we’re out here in the middle of rebalancing to the Pacific is key and the CNMI is a vital part of it,” she said.
Bolivar attended the inauguration of Inos and Torres on Monday and then met with the two the following day, along with Marine Corps Forces Pacific executive director Craig Whelden, Pacific Command Strategic Planning and Policy director Maj. Gen. Michael Dana, and Pacific Air Forces Brig. Gen. Steven Basham at the Governor’s Office conference room on Capital Hill.
At the meeting Bolivar clarified that no decision has been made on the divert airfield in case the Andersen Air Force Base in rendered inoperable due to attack or natural calamity. Saipan and Tinian is being mulled as possible location for the alternative airbase.
Meanwhile, Whelden said the Centers for Strategic & International Studies’ recent report, “Pivot 2.0: How the Administration and Congress Can Work Together to Sustain American Engagement in Asia to 2016,” just reinforces what the U.S. Department of Defense has been telling Congress all along on how important the realignment of U.S. military forces is in the Pacific.
“CSIS about two years ago was asked by Congress to make an independent study, separate from the Department of Defense, to look at the Pacific posture for the military forces and they came out with a report in the summer of 2012. They did a follow-on report just a couple of weeks ago that went public that essentially reinforced the need for a robust military presence in the Pacific. So we’re familiar with those reports and it basically validates the same message we’ve been making to Congress about the importance of the Pacific region,” he said.
One of the recommendations of the report is the crafting of an East Asia Strategy Report that would clarify the objectives of the rebalance; fund military construction necessary to realign U.S. forces in the Pacific; and pass a nonbinding budget resolution that sets spending above the sequestration caps and lays the groundwork for increased spending in the reconciliation process.
“For its part, Congress should be prepared to fund the fairly modest costs of modernizing U.S. facilities in Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific Command’s area of responsibility. This would be an early indication to U.S. allies that Congress and administration are prepared to work together to sustain momentum in our engagement of the region,” reads a chapter titled “Defense: Explaining and Resourcing the Rebalance” in the CSIS report.
Without additional resources, U.S. leaders would be facing a choice between sustaining existing capacity and developing new capabilities, the report said.
“Military challengers in Asia are simultaneously expanding capacity and advancing capability, made possible by rapidly growing defense budgets. China, for example, has rapidly modernized its forces while also increasing the number of advanced People’s Liberation Army ships and aircraft. To keep pace with this growing challenge, the United States and its allies and partners will have to do the same,” it added.
Michael J. Green, Zack Cooper, and Mira Rapp Hooper authored that chapter of the CSIS report.