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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bordallo asks for greater clarity on Asia-Pacific rebalance

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) joined members of the full House Armed Services Committee on July 24 in discussing the importance of the rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region and its implications to U.S. national security.

Witnesses included Dr. Michael Auslin, resident scholar, Asian Studies and director, Japanese Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Dr. Patrick Cronin, senior adviser and senior director of the Asia Program, Center for a New American Security; Adm. Gary Roughead, USN (ret.), Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution; Dr. James Shinn, lecturer, School of Engineering, Princeton University.

Bordallo also recently joined several of her HASC colleagues in cosigning a letter to National Security Adviser Susan Rice requesting clear interagency guidance enabling a broad effort to empower departments and agencies to implement this rebalance strategy. During the hearing, Bordallo highlighted the landslide victory for the Liberal Democratic Party in the upper house of the Japanese Diet and asked what kind of impact it may have on U.S.-Japan strategic defense partnership. She asked whether the Abe Administration would be able to leverage this victory to press for more progress in the development of a Futenma Replacement Facility in Okinawa. She also asked whether delays in the Guam realignment have had any impact on our political capital and regional credibility.

Roughead said the Liberal Democratic Party’s victory will change the nature of the debate in discussions on the realignment but said it was too early to comment on what effect it may have on FRF progress. Additionally, Shinn noted that the failure to move forward with the FRF and the Guam realignment has done some damage in the past and is a notable test point for the Government of Japan in gauging whether there is Congressional and broad political support for the rebalance.

“The strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region is a whole-of-government effort that includes increased diplomatic, military and economic focus on this critical region of the world,” said Bordallo. “Our efforts to rebalance military assets in the Asia-Pacific are intended to better shape the security environment in this region. We have never been good at determining when or where the next fight might occur but these efforts are intended to avoid that choice and ensure the peaceful rise of nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

This was as an important hearing to better articulate our country’s strategic interests in the region, and our panel of witnesses emphasized that more than the economic opportunities and improved diplomacy that will abound, the real purpose of this rebalance is to promote regional security and stability. I hope that we will have more frank discussions on the rebalance to better demonstrate the importance of the Pacific realignments and the role Guam will play in the coming years. I also appreciated Dr. Shinn’s comments in highlighting that the Senate’s continued obstruction to progress on the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam has cost us political and diplomatic capital with our close allies in Japan. It’s time to get on with this very tangible part of the rebalance.”

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