Saturday, 20 July 2024
Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.

     |      View our Twitter page at     |     
Heritage Foundation

Senator Jim Inhofe recently described the importance of missile defense during an Armed Services Hearing on the U.S. European Command and the U.S. Joint Forces Command. "Today, more than 20 countries around the world have a ballistic missile capability," stated Inhofe during the hearing. General Craddock, Commander of the U.S. European Command agreed, saying "Ballistic missile defense must remain a priority so that we are postured to counter threats to the United States."

The Obama Administration is not taking the talk from U.S. military leaders seriously as Hillary Clinton continues to consider missile defense a bargaining chip for U.S. relations abroad. The United States has proven that missile defense is effective

Read more...  

What would you do if an enemy tested a weapon that could kill millions of your fellow citizens? According to Heritage Foundation vice president Kim Holmes, the logical response would be to build up a missile defense system capable of knocking a ballistic missile out of the sky. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration's recent announcement to cut missile defense isn't exactly logical. In fact it is downright puzzling. Holmes discusses this confusion in his recent op-ed in the Washington Times.

While North Korea tested a long-range missile, the Pentagon announced a $1.4 billion cut in missile defense spending--the very programs that would protect the U.S. in the event of a rogue ballistic missile attack. Holmes reminds readers that the Administration will continue our short-range missile programs, of little consolation as we watch North Korea and Iran further their nuclear goals. Holmes argues that it is essential to protect both our troops on the battlefield and the U.S. homeland from missile attacks.

One of the major missile defense programs on the chopping block is the Airborne Laser (ABL) system. This energy directed weapon is used to shoot down a long-range missile shortly after launch--the point at which a missile is most vulnerable. Another casualty looks to be the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) program. Holmes asserts that this is completely counterintuitive, since GBIs are the only operational defense capable of destroying a North Korean Taepo Dong-2 missiles heading for the U.S. mainland. Holmes asks, why is the Administration indifferent to protecting the homeland?

The Administration argues that the cuts are out of economic necessity, but nothing could be further from the truth. The $1.4 billion cut from missile defense comprises 0.04 percent of the overall proposed federal budget, which Holmes compares to "a rounding error in an Obama bailout." In the grand scheme of things, it is a miniscule amount to pay for the protection of all Americans. It's time for the Administration to wake up and smell the rocket fuel. Our missile defense system has been progressing rapidly, and it is not the cause of our economic woes. Indeed, if America was hit by a rogue missile, the discomfort caused by today's economic crisis would pale in comparison to the destruction.

Copyright 2009 The Heritage Foundation. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


by Bruce Klingner

On July 4 Pyongyang launched seven Scud missiles in a rebuff to international diplomatic efforts to deter North Korea from developing a missile delivery capability for nuclear weapons. North Korea's blatant defiance of yet another UN resolution demonstrates the critical necessity for the U.S. and its allies to have robust missile defense systems—even as America does all it can both multilaterally and unilaterally to squeeze Pyongyang into abandoning its programs. Washington and Tokyo have deployed an effective, though still limited missile defense system, while Seoul has yet to upgrade its rudimentary defenses.

Read more...  

Reports of the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud demonstrate that cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan against militants located in the tribal border areas is beginning to bear fruit. Although U.S. officials have not yet confirmed the demise of Mehsud, several senior Taliban leaders and Pakistan's foreign minister have declared he was killed by a U.S. drone missile strike in South Waziristan on Wednesday. If it was indeed successful, this strike represents the culmination of a campaign targeting Mehsud and his forces, an effort that has reportedly been facilitated by Pakistani intelligence.

Read more...  

In a recent article, The Times discusses Russia's "new" foreign policy position as a graceful extension of an olive branch – but common sense tells experts not to get so excited. Russia came out on January 28th with a chain of statements about supporting the Obama Administration because of its willingness to reconsider current U.S. missile defense shield plans in Poland and the Czech Republic. This so-called "olive branch" is a statement that the Russian's will not position Iskander short-range missiles in Russia's Baltic enclave(a plan they announced the day after the 2008 Presidential election) so long as the United States backs down from its plans for the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. How thoughtful of the Russian's to back out of a missile program it can't afford and hasn't even begun.

Read more...  

Last Monday, Jackson Diehl wrote an Op-Ed for The Washington Post, which highlighted some necessary steps for success in Afghanistan. Writing from his position in the country, Mr. Diehl noted that troops continue to stream into Afghanistan and the counter-insurgency strategy by General David Petraeus, which was so successful in Iraq, is being implemented. Further, "Polls show a chance to win over the population: Less than 5 percent say they support the Taliban, while more than 60 percent still accept the presence of foreign troops." Yet, "McKiernan believes the Afghan army, now at 80,000 members, will have to grow to 240,000 before it can defend the country on its own -- and that raising it to that level will take until 2016."

Diehl notes that we are on the right track in Afghanistan. However, the war is as unpopular as ever, and is still far from a guaranteed success. These remarks are strikingly similar to those of Heritage Foundation expert James Carafano, who in a recent Washington Examiner Op-Ed, articulated the need to avoid a half-measure war in Afghanistan. By a half-measure war, he specifically refers to President Johnson's actions during Vietnam. In order to fund his vast and ambitious domestic agenda, Johnson devoted only the bare minimum in allocations to the Pentagon, while simultaneously gutting parts of the defense budget. The result was an incremental strategy in Southeast Asia, which allowed our enemies to adjust and recalibrate their forces.

For President Obama, who is currently focusing on a domestic agenda of unprecedented scale, it would be extraordinarily easy to repeat the failures of Johnson. To his credit though, Obama's early moves as president don't indicate the onset of a half-measure war. Our President did not cut-and-run in Iraq, and he has been consulting our Generals and making use of helpful reports from the previous administration. But as the administration turns more and more to its vast domestic agenda, it would be all too easy to put crucial military decisions on the backburner.

The question is, will President Obama have the stamina to follow a hard line in Afghanistan? Or will he find it necessary to abandon an aggressive fight in order to advance his colossal domestic agenda? We certainly hope for the former.

Copyright 2009 The Heritage Foundation. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


Latest papers posted by the Heritage Foundation

29 June 2009
Worst-case scenari dealing with WMD must be part of providing for common defense
By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Special Report #60

The recent Graham-Talent Commission study, A World at Risk, argues that this is no time to be complacent about weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In the decades ahead, efforts to deal with these threats have to be a cornerstone of providing for the common defense.

Read more...  

By Ariel Cohen, PhD

As President Medvedev of Russia is coming to visit Barack Obama, the Administration's spokesmen are desperately trying to convince us that the "reset" policy with the Russia has paid off. They argue that Russia and the United States have developed a real partnership, as demonstrated by the signature of the New START treaty, Russian support for the U.N.'s sanctions on Iran, and transit agreements to move troops and supplies into Afghanistan through Russian territory and air space.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks that a new era of U.S.-Russian cooperation has dawned. A closer look at the bilateral relationship, however, reveals that the cost for this cooperation and its often symbolic success has been very high.

Read more...  

By Baker Spring

The White House plans to submit the April 8, 2010, the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (New START) between the Russian Federation and the United States of America to the Senate for ratification today. The Senate should focus less on the text of the Treaty, its Protocol and Annexes because these documents were made available to the Senate and the public earlier. Instead, the Senate should focus more on the two documents that will accompany today's submission and that have so far not been made public. The first is the section-by-section analysis of the Treaty. The second is the so-called Section 1251 report.

Read more...  

By Bruce Klingner

Attempts by the new Japanese government to renegotiate terms of the Guam Agreement, which would realign U.S. military forces in Japan, have seriously strained U.S.-Japan relations, harming the bilateral military alliance. The situation has not yet become a crisis, but continued mishandling could make it one. Japan needs to implement the terms of the agreement. The U.S. and Japan need to work together to reduce the current tension level and refocus on addressing regional and global security challenges.

A debate has raged between Washington and the newly elected Japanese government over implementing the Guam Agreement on realigning U.S. military forces in Japan. The most contentious issue is Japanese backtracking on the planned relocation of a Marine Corps air station on Okinawa. The movement of the air station from one part of Okinawa to another is no small matter. It is an integral, critical part of a broader agreement to restructure the American military presence in Japan in a manner that can sustain the military alliance deep into the new century.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have pressed Tokyo to fulfill its treaty commitments. The imbroglio has strained bilateral relations and established an adversarial relationship between Washington and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's administration. Although the situation has not yet become a crisis, continued Japanese ambivalence threatens to make it one.

Many U.S. experts and media advocate that the U.S. should simply accept the new Japanese government's political rationale for altering the security accord. Some assert that the U.S. must embrace the new realities of the transformed Japanese political landscape. Doing so, however, would impair U.S. national interests by diminishing Washington's ability to defend Japan and maintain peace and stability in Asia.

The strategic reasons for the U.S. and Japan to fulfill their security treaty commitments have been missing from most of the debate thus far. Alternative proposals have been devoid of military operational facts and have failed to acknowledge the long history of assessing and dismissing other possible options. Statements such as those asserting that the "only reason the U.S. won't consolidate the air bases on Okinawa is because the U.S. Marines and Air Force can't or won't talk to each other" are simplistic, insulting to the men and women of the U.S. military, and wrong.

A 13-year review of alternative sites concluded that the existing bilateral agreement provides the best solution to fulfilling the security requirements of both the U.S. and Japan. As such, Japan should support the planned relocation of the Futenma U.S. Marine Corps Air Station to Camp Schwab on Okinawa. Further delays in resolving the issue threaten to poison negotiations on other bilateral military operational issues, such as nuclear transparency and revising the Status of Forces Agreement.

U.S. Force Realignment on Okinawa

The U.S.-Japanese Roadmap for Realignment is a comprehensive, interconnected package of force posture changes on Okinawa and the Japanese main islands. The plan is composed of 19 separate initiatives that strengthen the U.S.-Japan security arrangement based on the three pillars of "commitment to common strategic objectives; updating the roles, missions, and capabilities of both partner nations' militaries, and a realignment of both militaries to better enable an enduring presence of U.S. military partner forces in Japan." The major provisions for U.S. force realignment on Okinawa are:

· Redeployment of U.S. Marine Corps air units from Futenma Air Station to a replacement facility to be constructed in the less populated area adjacent to Camp Schwab;

· Reduction of U.S. force levels on Okinawa by relocating 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents to Guam;

· Japan's provision of $6 billion of the estimated $10 billion cost to relocate to Guam;

· Consolidation of remaining U.S. Marine units in less heavily populated areas in northern Okinawa; and

· Return of several U.S. bases south of Kadena Air Base to Okinawa control.

The Okinawa realignment initiatives are interconnected. The relocation of 8,000 Marines to Guam, consolidation of Marine forces, and land returns south of Kadena depend on "tangible progress toward completion of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) and Japan's financial contributions to fund development of required facilities and infrastructure on Guam."

An Agreement 13 Years in the Making

The planned realignment of U.S. forces in Japan is the result of a lengthy series of bilateral agreements.

· 1996: Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) concluded that the U.S. should return Futenma Air Station to Okinawa control contingent on Japan providing an alternative location for U.S. forces' use.

· November 1999: The governor of Okinawa announces the decision to locate the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) offshore near Camp Schwab.

· July 2002: Japanese and Okinawa consultative group affirms the decision for a landfill facility offshore near Camp Schwab.

· December 2002: U.S. and Japan initiate the Defense Policy Review Initiative to strengthen the alliance and maintain deterrence while reducing the impact of U.S. forces in Japan, particularly on Okinawa.

· January 2005: The U.S. offers to move some military units from Okinawa to Guam.

· October 2005: In the "U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future" document, the U.S. and Japan agree on an L-shaped facility at Camp Schwab.

· May 2006: Political joint statement details 19 interconnected realignment initiatives. Camp Schwab plan is revised to a V-shaped runway in response to Japanese environmental and political issues. The U.S. agrees to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam with Japan paying $6 billion of the estimated $10 billion cost.

· May 2007: In the "Alliance Transformation: Advancing United States-Japan Security and Defense Cooperation" document, the U.S. and Japan reaffirmed resolve to implement the May 2006 realignment initiatives.

· February 2009: U.S. and Japan sign Guam Agreement as a legally binding executive agreement that formalizes the link between FRF and redeployment to Guam.

During the 2009 legislative election, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) pledged to revise the U.S. force realignment agreement. Although the DPJ 2009 party platform watered down earlier demands to a more innocuous vow to "review the agreement," Prime Minister Hatoyama continued to advocate moving the FRF off Okinawa or out of Japan entirely.

At the time of the Japanese election, the Obama Administration was concerned by some of the long-standing DPJ security recommendations, but adopted a wait-and-see attitude to allow the new DPJ government time to define its security policies. Despite U.S. hopes that the Hatoyama administration would back away from its stronger campaign rhetoric after assuming office, DPJ officials continued to advocate security policies contrary to U.S. interests.

U.S. officials' unease increased after meeting with DPJ counterparts. As time progressed, Washington felt that its subtle messages were being ignored or rejected by the DPJ and that U.S. public silence was being interpreted as acquiescence to new Japanese security proposals. As a result, the Obama Administration sent Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to deliver a more direct, transparent message affirming U.S. positions and delineating concerns.

Contrary to media perception that Gates's forthright remarks reflected only a Defense Department viewpoint, his talking points were approved by an interagency process and therefore represented a consolidated U.S. government position. Gates's message was a calculated Obama Administration risk to constrain the growing list of DPJ demands. Gates underscored the interconnected nature of the Guam Agreement, pointing out that there would be no congressional support for moving 8,000 Marines to Guam if the FRF was not constructed. Moreover, further Japanese delay on implementing the agreement risked turning next year's local Okinawa elections into referendums on the alliance with a commensurate increase in anti-American protests on the island.

Strains in the Alliance

Bilateral strains between the U.S. and Japan have escalated during the DPJ's short tenure. A senior Japanese foreign affairs official commented that bilateral ties had entered a "period of winter-like hardship," while a high-ranking defense ministry official assessed U.S.-Japanese relations had worsened to "an alarming level." After their summit meeting, Prime Minister Hatoyama responded angrily to President Obama's characterization of a senior-level bilateral study group as focused on implementing the 2006 agreement. The prime minister asserted, "The Japan-U.S. agreement is not the premise [for discussions of the working group]."

Reflecting the growing bilateral tension on the issue, Minister of Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada expressed concerns on December 5 that a failure to carry out the original relocation plan could undermine the relationship of trust between the two nations, "I have a very strong sense of crisis over the current situation of Japan-U.S. relations."

Conflicting Signals from Japan

The DPJ coalition has several different and contradictory views on the U.S. force realignment agreement. At the national level, the three principal actors are Prime Minister Hatoyama, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, and Foreign Minister Okada. Kitazawa appears to have quickly understood the rationale for the realignment plan and became an early convert. Kitazawa sought to deflect political criticism by claiming that accepting the FRF plan "wouldn't constitute a violation of the party's election campaign pledge to move the base overseas or out of Okinawa prefecture." Hatoyama disagreed, and Okada declared Kitazawa's reasoning, "a bit illogical."

Okada was a strong proponent of integrating Futenma into the Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, arguing that "it would be highly advantageous for the two huge bases in Okinawa to be merged into one." However, Okada's recommendation was undermined by strong local resistance, including by the mayors of three towns adjacent to the air base. Kadena Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi stated on November 16 that "we simply cannot swallow any plan to merge (Futenma with Kadena)." Miyagi also complained that the U.S. had failed to abide by a 1996 noise reduction agreement that restricts early morning and nighttime flights. Okada backtracked after meeting with the mayors, stating integrating the two bases was just one of a number of options. After visiting Okinawa in November, Okada commented that he was now "able to understand the reality more [and] it is not a fact that we promised in our manifesto to relocate Futenma outside the prefecture or outside Japan."

Although both the defense and foreign affairs ministers now appear to advocate accepting the original agreement, Prime Minister Hatoyama continues to advocate moving Futenma off Okinawa. At heart, he remains a political animal, more susceptible to political than strategic considerations.

Forward Deployment Critical to U.S. Fulfilling Treaty Obligations

The forward-deployed U.S. military presence in Japan, including Okinawa, demonstrates Washington's commitment to fulfilling its 1960 bilateral security treaty obligations. Although not widely known, the security treaty obligates the U.S. not only to defend Japan, but also to fulfill broader regional security responsibilities. "For the purpose of contributing to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East,the United States of America is granted the use by its land, air and naval forces of facilities and areas in Japan."

Alliance security objectives extending beyond the defense of Japan have been affirmed in recent bilateral agreements:

· February 2005: Listed among the common strategic objectives of the alliance are to "[e]nsure the security of Japan, strengthen peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, maintain the capability to address contingencies affecting the United States and Japan [and] promote a peaceful, stable, and vibrant Southeast Asia."

· October 2005: "The U.S. will maintain forward-deployed forces, and augment them as needed, for the defense of Japan as well as to deter and respond to situations in areas surrounding Japan."

· October 2005: "Bilateral cooperation in improving the international security environment to achieve regional and global common strategic objectives has become an important element of the alliance."

Redeploying to Guam Would Weaken Alliance Capabilities

Okinawa's strategic location contributes to potent U.S. deterrent and power projection capabilities as well as enabling rapid and flexible contingency response, including to natural disasters in Asia. Marine ground units on Okinawa can utilize Futenma airlift to deploy quickly to amphibious assault and landing ships stationed at the nearby U.S. Naval Base at Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Okinawa has four long runways: two at Kadena Air Base, one at Futenma, and one at Naha civilian airfield. The Futenma runway would likely be eliminated after return to Okinawa control to enable further civilian urban expansion. The planned FRF would compensate by building two new (albeit shorter) runways at Camp Schwab. However, if the Futenma unit redeployed to Guam instead, no new runway on Okinawa would be built. Japan would have thus lost a strategic national security asset, which includes the capability to augment U.S. or Japanese forces during a crisis in the region. Not having runways at Futenma or Schwab would be like sinking one's own aircraft carrier, putting further strain on the two runways at Kadena.

Redeploying U.S. forces from Japan and Okinawa to Guam would reduce alliance deterrent and combat capabilities. Guam is 1,400 miles, a three-hour flight, and multiple refueling operations farther from potential conflict zones. Furthermore, moving fixed-wing aircraft to Guam would drastically reduce the number of combat aircraft sorties that U.S. forces could conduct during crises with North Korea or China, while exponentially increasing refueling and logistic requirements.

Separating Marine Ground and Air Units Hinders Operations

The rapid crisis response capabilities provided by the presence of the Marine Corps forces constitute a critical alliance capability.... [S]ustaining those capabilities, which consist of air, ground, logistics and command elements, remains dependent upon the interaction of those elements in regular training, exercises and operations. [Therefore,] the FRF must be located within Okinawa...near the other elements with which they operate on a regular basis.--U.S.-Japan Joint Statement

The Marine Corps trains, deploys, and fights in combined-arms units under the doctrine of Marine Air Ground Task Force. This method of operation requires co-location, interaction, and training of integrated Marine Corps air, ground, logistics, and command elements. The 3rd Marine Division ground component located on Okinawa relies on the 1st Marine Air Wing at Futenma to conduct operations and training outside Okinawa.

Marine Corps rapid reaction is a core capability of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Marine transport helicopters on Okinawa can self-deploy to Southeast Asia for theater security operations by island-hopping. This is not possible from Guam because some helicopters would need to be transported by ship, which is a three-day transit.

The DPJ advocacy for removing Marine helicopter units from Okinawa is analogous to a town demanding the removal of a police or fire station, but still expecting the same level of protection, which is impossible given the tyranny of distance.

Delaying Implementation Creates an Untenable Political Situation

It is critical for the alliance to maintain a robust forward-deployed U.S. military presence to defend Japan and maintain peace and stability in Asia. Doing so, however, requires strong Japanese public support, which would be enhanced by reducing the impact of U.S. forces on the Okinawa populace. The most notable driving force is to address local concerns by redeploying the Marine air unit from the densely populated area near Futenma to a more remote location on Okinawa. This reduces noise and safety concerns, and it reduces the U.S. military footprint by returning some bases to local control.

Further DPJ procrastination will only make resolving the situation more difficult and exacerbate tensions. Delaying the decision will inflame the DPJ's leftist elements and coalition partners to expand the debate to a more comprehensive reassessment of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Implementing the agreement is a test of both countries' commitment to the alliance. If not accomplished, it raises suspicions over what will be the next agreement that either country will seek to abrogate or renegotiate. Further delay will turn next year's Okinawa elections into referendums on U.S. force realignment and risk inflaming local sentiment against U.S. military presence. The current Okinawa governor and mayor of Nago (near Camp Schwab) support the realignment plan. They both face re-election in 2010.

The U.S. Congress currently supports the Guam Agreement, but further delays will endanger the funding needed for the move. The U.S. Senate reduced funding for construction projects for the redeployment of 8,000 Marines to Guam. The Senate passed a 2010 budget bill that slashed $210 million of the requested $300 million to fund the planned transfer. Although intended as a congressional signal to the Department of Defense to improve interagency coordination, it was interpreted by Japan as a response to DPJ dithering on the FRF. Funds were subsequently reinstated during conference committee proceedings to counter the Japanese misinterpretation. However, congressional sources indicate that a Japanese failure to implement the FRF plan will lead to budget cuts for the relocation of U.S. Marines to Guam.

The Guam Agreement is a fragile compromise of interlocking events and compromises. Failure to achieve any component jeopardizes the entire agreement. Further delays would maintain the politically unstable status quo of keeping Marine air units in the crowded Futenma area, which is seen as dangerous in light of a previous helicopter crash into a nearby university. The longer the issue drags on, the more likely it will inflame public opinion against the U.S. military presence.

Insufficient Capacity at Kadena Air Base for Futenma Unit

Despite its immense size, the Kadena Air Base does not have sufficient capacity to incorporate Futenma air operations. Integrating Marine helicopter operations into Kadena would double daily flight operations, significantly increasing safety and noise concerns and degrading an already difficult operational and training environment.

Kadena is in a densely populated area, which already encroaches on the facility perimeter, precluding expansion to accept additional air units. Kadena has three possible locations that could house the redeployed Marine air unit: the north ramps of the existing runway, the south ramps, and the golf course.

The north ramp's storage capacity is already maxed out, providing no expansion capability without moving existing forces. The north ramp currently houses P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, MC-130 special operations transport aircraft, KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, E-3 AWACS, RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, and HH-60 search and rescue helicopters. These planes provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR); aerial refueling; transport; Special Forces capabilities; search and rescue; and airborne control and command capabilities--all deemed to be critical requirements.

Putting the Futenma helicopters on the north ramp would necessitate displacing the existing fixed-wing aircraft to another location. Moving the fixed-wing aircraft would require either constructing a replacement facility on Okinawa even larger than the one envisioned at Camp Schwab or redeploying to Guam with a resultant critical degradation of core capabilities, such as airborne ISR, which provides both warning prior to crisis and situation awareness during operations. Some of the planes currently on the north ramp do not have aerial refueling capability, reducing their availability and effectiveness if redeployed to Guam.

The south ramp houses numerous fighter planes without sufficient ramp storage space for the Futenma helicopters. U.S. military officials commented that helicopter and fighter plane operations are incompatible due to the high pace of activity of both aircraft types and foreign object damage concerns.

The golf course would provide open space, but there are no existing facilities. Flight operations from that area would need either to cross the flight path of aircraft using the runways, creating significant air traffic control and safety problems, or to fly through declared noise abatement residential areas, worsening noise problems.

Integrating at Kadena Reduces Contingency Capacity

Capacity above typical daily peacetime usage levels also plays a critical and strategic role in meeting contingency requirements. -U.S.-Japan Joint Statement

Since Japan cannot guarantee enduring contingency access to a Futenma runway after reversion to civilian control, the loss of this strategic national asset would degrade alliance crisis response. In the absence of a Schwab airfield, consolidated Futenma and Kadena flight operations would exceed existing Kadena runway and ramp maximum-on-ground storage capabilities for surge operations during a military crisis or humanitarian emergency.

Relying on Guam for ramp storage space would exponentially increase air-to-air refueling requirements for both essential land-based and carrier combat aircraft operations. This would significantly reduce U.S. ability to conduct combat sorties as well as strain, if not exceed, logistic capabilities. Deploying additional aircraft carriers would not be sufficient. Aircraft carriers cannot support transport or air-to-air refueling aircraft, nor can they generate the necessary combat aircraft sorties planned for both Kadena and Futenma during contingency and combat operations.

Expanding Kadena Flight Operations Is Politically Unfeasible

The local populace is already upset by existing noise and activity levels at Kadena. Integrating Futenma flight operations would cause increased flight hours, noise, and safety concerns. The governor of Okinawa and the mayors of three adjacent towns have strongly resisted incorporating Futenma into Kadena. Proceeding with integration would magnify operational and political problems rather than reduce them, placing a politically sustainable U.S. military presence on Okinawa at risk.

One factor that is notan issue preventing integration of Futenma and Kadena is assertions that the Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force "can't or won't talk to each other." Marine Corps F/A-18 and AV-8B aircraft home-based at Iwakuni Air Station frequently deploy to Kadena. The Marines share an F/A-18 operations location at Kadena because Futenma lacks ammunition-loading facilities.

Camp Schwab Remains the Most Viable Option

During the multi-year study of the force realignment plan, U.S. and Japanese officials studied alternative sites on the Japanese mainland, including Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku, but rejected all of them due to the lack of facility and training areas or because of climate or political constraints. Other locations on Okinawa were also analyzed, including the Yomitan, Central Training Area, Ie Shima, Katsuren, and North Training Areas, but were rejected because of cost, lack of local support, insufficient capacity, or degradation of training activity.

The proposed location in Nago near Camp Schwab reduces the proximity of flight operations to population centers, addressing local safety and noise concerns. Redeploying the 1st Marine Air Wing to Camp Schwab and 8,000 Marines to Guam would allow the U.S. to return several bases to Okinawa control and reduce the U.S. military footprint on Okinawa. All of these moves would reduce the U.S. military burden on the Okinawa people. Both the Okinawa governor and Nago mayor support the current Camp Schwab plan.

The DPJ Is Thinking Politically, Not Strategically

The increased strains in the alliance arising from the Futenma debate is a manifestation of the DPJ pledge to be more assertive toward the United States than the Liberal Democratic Party. However, after picking a fight with Washington on the most important alliance issue and stirring up the masses on Okinawa with renewed hopes of getting rid of U.S. forces, Hatoyama finds himself caught in a political trap. He is now attempting to strike a balance between the competing interests of domestic and foreign alliances, but whichever path he chooses, he will alienate one or both sides.

The DPJ created this crisis by painting itself into a corner with assertive public statements. Part of being a strategist and a politician is choosing one's battles carefully. If the DPJ had thought strategically and conducted a quiet policy review before making Futenma a major issue, they would have realized that there are no other viable options that fulfill security requirements. They would have also understood the importance of the issue to United States.

Ministers Kitazawa and Okada are now trying to walk the DPJ back from its advocacy of the Kadena and Guam options, while Hatoyama and other senior DPJ legislators continue to press onward.

DPJ flexibility and maneuverability will be hampered by:

· Long-standing DPJ policy positions, campaign rhetoric, and post-election statements.

· The DPJ's poorly organized policy coordination framework and poor message management, which has caused cabinet ministers and the prime minister to frequently contradict each other, creating confusion and the image of amateurish government.

· The DPJ's election campaign against bureaucrats, vowing to reduce their power and use alternative sources of information. The DPJ has sidelined ministry officials who are the most knowledgeable on complicated and technical security issues.

· Two DPJ coalition partners, the People's New Party (PNP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), oppose the FRF. The PNP advocates integrating Futenma into Kadena, but with a 15-year time limit. The PNP also wants to move 28 Kadena-based F-15 fighter planes to other bases and ban any planes based outside Kadena from using the base during exercises. On December 3, SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima threatened that the SDP would leave the ruling coalition if the FRF agreement is implemented, depriving the DPJ of a legislative majority. Defense Minister Kitazawa warned that a breakup of the coalition would "throw the political scene into turmoil."

· Newly elected DPJ Okinawa legislators and vocal protest groups favor reducing the U.S. troop presence on Okinawa.

It is unclear if the DPJ realizes the ramifications of their actions. While the DPJ is willing to press to reduce or eliminate U.S. military presence, is it prepared to augment its own military forces with a commensurate increase in defense spending to compensate for the lost U.S. capabilities? It is as if a town is demanding to relocate an unsightly police or fire station while still expecting no degradation of commitment or capability. Is Japan prepared to devote sufficient resources in order to answer their own 911 calls?

What the U.S. Should Do

The U.S. should:

Continue to press Tokyo to fully implement the Guam Agreement on U.S. force realignment, including the Futenma Replacement Facility. The U.S. should reiterate that redeployments of Marine forces on Okinawa depend on Japan fully implementing the Guam Agreement, which stipulates that the new Marine air base on Okinawa must be completed before the 8,000 Marines redeploy to Guam.Agree to a minor reconfiguration of the Camp Schwab runway location (moving the runway an additional 50 meters offshore) and accept stricter regulations on noise abatement and environmental protection to reduce tensions in the alliance. Such measures would reduce the burden on the Okinawa people, which is the primary DPJ goal.Work closely with the DPJ government to minimize the potential for disruptive public debate during upcoming contentious negotiations over the Status of Forces Agreement, alliance burden-sharing, and other issues. The U.S. should be cognizant of the DPJ's political need to revise bilateral agreements to demonstrate that it is achieving an equal status.Engage with all levels of the Japanese government as the DPJ initiates a comprehensive review of the alliance. As demonstrated by the FRF controversy, the strategic review, if handled poorly, could magnify strains in the bilateral relationship.Request the DPJ to define its vision of "equal alliance" and Japan's regional and global security responsibilities. The U.S. should discuss ways in which Japan can assume a larger security role to achieve a more equal status and emphasize to Tokyo that an alliance often means shouldering responsibilities, rather than looking for ways to lose burdens.

Both sides should refrain from provocative statements that incite public opinion against the alliance. Private bilateral discussions would be a more productive venue to resolve differences and achieve consensus on each country's alliance roles, missions, and required capabilities.


The Futenma controversy has caused the Obama and Hatoyama administrations' relationship to get off on the wrong foot. Frustration, suspicion, and anger are increasing in both capitals, threatening to create a crisis of confidence. The FRF controversy has, in the words of one U.S. official, "sucked the air out of the room" by redirecting alliance attention away from strategically important regional and global security issues.

The Futenma dispute has already harmed the bilateral alliance. The extent of the damage will depend on the responses of both countries. The alliance is not yet in crisis, but if the situation is mishandled, the alliance could be headed for one.

The U.S. and Japan need to keep in mind that the alliance is critically important for both countries and that the contentious issues are only one part of the broader relationship. Washington and Tokyo need to work together to reduce the current tension level and to refocus on transforming the alliance to address security challenges.

Bruce Klingner is Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.

Copyright 2009 The Heritage Foundation. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


By Baker Spring

The Obama Administration released its overdue Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) on April 6, 2010. [1] The review establishes five specific objectives for the future nuclear force of the United States. Missing from these five objectives is what should be the most important objective of all: defending the U.S. and its allies against strategic attack. Accordingly, Congress, the American people, and America's allies need to ask the Obama Administration a simple and straightforward question: Why won't you defend us?

Read more...  

By Dr. Liam Fox MP - Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

This year in Afghanistan has been the bloodiest for both British and American forces since the war started in 2001.

Compared with this time last year, there has been a 55 percent increase in coalition deaths, IED (improvised explosive device) incidents are up by 80 percent, and there has been a 90 percent increase in attacks on the Afghan government. On top of this increase in kinetic activity, Afghanistan's political future is filled with uncertainty pending the results of the recent presidential elections.

Read more...  

by Lisa Curtis

A faulty Afghan election and decreasing American public support for the war in Afghanistan are leading President Obama to question his Administration's strategy for defeating the terrorist threat centered in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

American domestic politics and a complicated regional picture are apparently coloring President Obama's thinking on U.S. strategy toward these two countries, potentially prompting him to scale back U.S. goals in the region. That would be a mistake. While there is a need to carefully review and refine tactics and strategies, President Obama must shun the temptation to believe that the U.S. can somehow defeat al-Qaeda without preventing Afghanistan from being engulfed by the Taliban-led insurgency.

In his comprehensive assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, which was leaked to the U.S. media earlier this week, U.S. Commander General Stanley McChrystal lays out a strategy for moving forward that would require the deployment of fresh U.S. troops. This is not surprising. On several occasions, President Obama himself has pronounced that the war in Afghanistan has not received the appropriate resources—such as U.S. leadership, troop levels, and financial commitments—necessary to achieve U.S. objectives. General McChrystal argues for increasing the focus on protecting the Afghan population from Taliban advances, a recommendation based in part on the recent American experience in Iraq, where General Petraeus's "people-centric" approach to counterinsurgency paid dividends and ultimately discredited al-Qaeda and its harsh tactics. General McChrystal also makes the case that new U.S. troop deployments must come quickly or the U.S. risks facing a situation in which it will be impossible to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

Separating Taliban Leadership from al-Qaeda: An Unrealistic Goal

In a March 27speech, President Obama was clear on the link between the Taliban and al-Qaeda and the threat posed by al-Qaeda to the governing regimes in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He rightly said, "And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban—or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged—that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."

But his remarks on Afghanistan at Wednesday's United Nations General Assembly reveal that he may be second-guessing U.S. strategy in the region. While he repeated his commitment to not allowing al-Qaeda to find sanctuary in Afghanistan or "any other nation" (i.e., Pakistan), he failed to mention the Taliban insurgency that is threatening to destabilize Afghanistan and the necessity of preventing such an outcome.

His apparent backtracking on Afghanistan can also be found in statements he made on this past Sunday's morning talk shows in which he openly questioned whether fighting the Taliban insurgency is necessary to stopping al-Qaeda.

According to media reports, President Obama is considering implementing a plan supported by Vice President Joe Biden to scale back the American military presence in Afghanistan and focus on targeting al-Qaeda cells primarily in western Pakistan. This strategy would be insufficient to curb the terrorist threat emanating from the region. Ceding territory to the Taliban in Afghanistan would embolden international terrorists in the region, including in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Over the last year U.S. predator strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan have been effective at disrupting the al-Qaeda leadership, and President Obama deserves credit for aggressively employing this tactic. However, the predator strikes in Pakistan must be accompanied by sustained U.S. and NATO military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda have a symbiotic relationship, and they support each other's harsh Islamist, anti-West goals. It would be folly to think a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan would be anything but a deadly international terrorist safe haven.

Success in Afghanistan requires that those Taliban who support international terrorists are not in a position to threaten the stability of the government. This will ultimately require a strong, well-equipped, and well-trained Afghan national army and police force. But this will take time.

In the meantime, the U.S. must prevent the Taliban from regaining influence in Afghanistan, which requires increasing U.S. troop levels. Success in Afghanistan does not require the complete elimination of anyone who has ever associated with the Taliban. But it does require that the Taliban leaders still allied with al-Qaeda and supportive of its destructive global agenda do not have the ability to reassert power in Afghanistan.

Focus on Improving U.S. Strategy toward Pakistan

Instead of considering whether to scale back the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, the Obama Administration must figure out how it can increase its diplomatic leverage with Islamabad. It is mind-boggling that after eight years of seeking to partner with Pakistan in countering terrorism in the region and providing nearly $15 billion in U.S. economic and military assistance to the country, the insurgency in southern Afghanistan is directed by Afghan Taliban leaders located in Pakistan that are "reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan's ISI," as General McChrystal concludes in his report.

The McChrystal report acknowledges that most insurgent fighters in Afghanistan are "directed by a small number of Afghan senior leaders based in Pakistan that work through an alternative political infrastructure in Afghanistan." However, the report fails to spell out a strategy for neutralizing this leadership and for convincing Pakistan to use all of the tools at its disposal to assist the U.S. in that effort.

Pakistan has made substantial gains against insurgents threatening stability inside Pakistan. There is more clarity within the Pakistani military leadership and among the Pakistani public about the threat posed to the country from Taliban elements. A recent public opinion poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that 69 percent of Pakistanis worry that extremists could take control of their country. The poll further indicated that 70 percent of Pakistanis now rate the Taliban unfavorably compared to only 33 percent a year ago.

U.S. officials must now build on this momentum by convincing Pakistan to take the fight to the Afghan Taliban leadership that finds sanctuary in and around Quetta in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. U.S. officials must convince Pakistan of the futility of allowing the Afghan Taliban leadership to flourish in the region and of the potential consequences for Pakistan's own stability of refusing to crack down on these elements.

Emboldening a Generation of International Terrorists

The Taliban/al-Qaeda threat spans the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan; thus, failure in one country will contribute to failure in the other—just as success in one country will breed success in the other. By appointing Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as the Senior Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan earlier this year, President Obama signaled that he understood this reality.

The imperfect elections in Afghanistan should not deter the Obama Administration from providing the resources necessary to achieve stability in Afghanistan. To be sure, the outcome of the election was certainly less than ideal. But pulling back from Afghanistan would be devastating, as it would embolden a generation of international terrorists who would then be able to strike at will whenever and wherever they choose.

Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.

Copyright 2009 The Heritage Foundation. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


by Mackenzie Eaglen

In order to identify the required capabilities for the Army, classic elements of force planning first demand that leaders determine model assumptions including objectives; identify where the U.S. is committed by treaty or interest; evaluate likelihood, intensity, and length of contingencies including surge capabilities; understand potential enemy capabilities; update force constraints including mobilization rates and readiness levels; and know allied capabilities for friend and foe. From there, leaders may then characterize near- and long-term risk by phase of operations and the type of mission.

Read more...  

by Nile Gardiner, Ph.D. and Sally McNamara

Reports in the Polish media strongly suggest that the Obama Administration is about to abandon its plans for "third site" missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Abandoning the third site would represent a huge turnaround in American strategic thinking on a global missile defense system and a massive betrayal of two key U.S. allies in Eastern and Central Europe. Such a move would also significantly weaken America's ability to combat the growing threat posed by Iran's ballistic missile program and would hand a major propaganda victory to Moscow.

Read more...  

by Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D.

I've been asked to start off the discussion by commenting on what kinds of current and future threats our nation faces and to discuss how our understanding of them can best inform your task of transforming the United States Army. There are many things the Army will need to do to:

Read more...  

by Mackenzie Eaglen

While few expect any tough votes if the Senate's FY 2010 defense appropriations bill arrives on the floor this autumn, one outstanding question remains: Given that Members have largely acquiesced to all of President Obama's defense cuts, will Congress continue funding the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) alternate engine (F-136)?

Read more...  

by Baker Spring

The Obama Administration's fiscal year 2010 proposal for missile defense scales back the number of ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) interceptors to be fielded in Alaska and California from the planned 44 to 30. The President's proposal also puts the program for fielding an additional 10 such interceptors in Poland on hold. Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Robert Gates still believes that the 2010 proposal still leaves America's ability to defend against a long-range missile threat from a rogue country "in a pretty good place."

Read more...  

by Lisa Curtis

Testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security

Delivered on July 7, 2009

My name is Lisa Curtis. I am a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation.

Read more...  

by Sally McNamara

On his first presidential visit to Moscow this week, Barack Obama continued to cast doubt on U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Since taking office, President Obama has conditioned his support for the "third site" deployment of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic on a number of factors--its workability, its cost-effectiveness, and the provability of an Iranian nuclear threat. On a visit to Prague in April, President Obama gave a keynote speech focusing on total nuclear disarmament whereby missile defenses would be completely unnecessary.

Read more...  

Latest from the Ministry of Defence

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Defence Viewpoints website. However, if you would like to, you can modify your browser so that it notifies you when cookies are sent to it or you can refuse cookies altogether. You can also delete cookies that have already been set. You may wish to visit which contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of desktop browsers. Please note that you will lose some features and functionality on this website if you choose to disable cookies. For example, you may not be able to link into our Twitter feed, which gives up to the minute perspectives on defence and security matters.