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growing interest in adopting some form of Missile Defense, which we regard as an encouraging development.
While Japan continues to observe strict limitations on its defense policies, there are many signs, reflected in some of the changes I have noted, indicating that the Japanese understand that it has become more important to their national interest to broaden their contributions to our alliance.
This new thinking is reflected not only in some of Japan's recent undertakings but also in its willingness to explore with us ways that we can further enhance the alliance and develop Japan's own security posture. Last December, at the "2+2" meeting of our two countries' Foreign and Defense ministers, the Japanese agreed "to intensify security consultations to explore areas of cooperation to reinforce effectively their national efforts." We have begun following up on this agreement in our ongoing discussions with the Japanese on ways we can develop our alliance to address the evolving security environment.
The topics we will be addressing include reassessing the threats we face, the roles and missions we should adopt to address them, force configurations that would allow us to do so, and the basing needs that such forces would require.
We are still at a preliminary stage in our discussions, but we have reviewed our overall strategic interests and reconfirmed that we share a broad range of common values and shared interests. The Japanese have indicated they will take these discussions into account as their own defense plans are updated. For our part, we have apprised our Japanese counterparts of our ongoing review of future force structure and assured Japan that we would be consulting with them closely before we reach any final conclusions.
In sum, our alliances with Japan and South Korea are moving forward, growing, and adjusting to today's changing security environment. We are trying to make the most of our Northeast Asian allies' evolving attitude towards local, regional, and global security so that we are both more capable, jointly and singly, of responding to threats we face today and may face tomorrow.
The process is a complex one, but Japan, South Korea, and the United States are approaching this effort with confidence and good will. We believe the end result will be to strengthen our alliances with both South Korea and Japan, as our partners see we are responsive to changes in their capabilities and intent on sustaining our long-term role in the Asia Pacific Region.
Mr. LEACH. I first want to just address a query to Secretary Rodman on the force restructuring issue from a congressional perspective. It strikes me that from a congressional perspective, we should delegate to you in the Defense Department all of the niceties of how you think American forces should be structured, but when it comes to commitment that is political and involving both purse as well as the potential loss of life of the United States, we have to be careful about commitment which is a public responsibility, broader than simply the Department of Defense.
And so it seems to me from your testimony—and I—that what you are saying is that our commitment in the region will be absolutely steadfast, but how we arrange our forces may change with the times for political and technological reasons. Is that a valid description? And as it changes, my sense is that you are intending to upgrade the commitment rather than downgrade it. Is that a valid way of describing the issue?
Mr. Rodman. I would say that the hope is to upgrade and modernize our capability. I mean, a political commitment is a national commitment, as you said. I mean, I didn't mean to imply something about changing our political commitments as a Nation. I think the political commitments are given. They are treaty relationships, long-standing relationships of other kinds. I think what we are talking about adapting is our physical capability, and that is something which involves consultation with the Congress necessarily, because that is how our defense programs are formulated, and certainly our forward presence is also a matter of congressional, executive, you know, cooperation, given the budget process.
Mr. Leach. I appreciate that. I just want to stress that from a congressional perspective, there is no desire of this Congress that I know of anywhere to downgrade a commitment, and that we are fully behind the maintenance and upgrading of our commitment to the Pacific. And we respect the discretion of the Executive Branch to rearrange the forces as it thinks is most effective. That is the only point I am trying to make.
There is a new geopolitical strategy, however, that is worthy of serious review, and that applies to DoD in particular, as well as to the responsibilities of the Navy. That relates to the new Proliferation Security Initiative which could involve some sort of interdiction in trade, particularly of illicit weaponry, particularly stemming from North Korea. I am wondering if either you, Mr. Rodman, or Admiral Fargo can explain how this initiative will work. And then have you thought through the international legal dimension in terms of will you be seeking new international legal rationales or sanctions in this arena?
Mr. Rodman. Well, let me start on that, and my colleagues can elaborate. This is only at the early stages of development. This is an initiative that the President broached in his Krakow speech. There was a meeting in Madrid a few weeks ago of the countries that are interested in it, and I think as it stands now, it includes a number of components. It is countries looking at their own national authorities under which they can take practical steps to tighten restraints on this kind of commerce in WMD, to look at export control regimes, for example, but certainly it does—there was a Madrid statement on June 12th which did explicitly refer to, "proactive measures to interdict shipments." That involved some new—certainly some new practices, and I think one—my sense is that it is something that we might, for example, raise at the U.N. Security Council, but there may be other forums as well in which we would develop some multilateral consensus on new measures. That is my understanding of where we are heading.
Mr. Leach. Secretary LaFleur, do you want to comment on that?
Mr. Lafleur. I think Secretary Rodman has laid it out fairly clearly. We are at a preliminary stage in this discussion, and I don't think we have reached any conclusions yet about what we will need in the way of
Mr. Leach. Clearness is lack of clarity.
Admiral Fargo. Mr. Chairman, let me just address it from the operator standpoint, and certainly this is the kind of initiative that would produce the kind of architecture that we would certainly look forward to from the standpoint of being able to execute a maritime interdiction operation against not only drugs, but proliferation as well as terrorism. So this, I think, has great potential to close up some of the seams that we see within the international spectrum that are there right now, that we need to address to ensure that illegal activity can't exist.
Mr. Leach. Let me just conclude with one question before turning it over to Mr. Faleomavaega. Secretary LaFleur commented on our looking carefully and watching Japanese legislation. We also, in reference to Admiral Fargo, note the commitment of the United States Navy to the area of the Taiwan Straits, and that this is an area that could have potential explosiveness if the situation isn't handled steadily and correctly.
And Admiral Fargo made reference to the dual obligations or the dual assumption of American foreign policy being rooted in the one China policy since the Administration of Mr. Nixon, but also in reference to the Taiwan Relations Act, which implies that we don't want to see the status of Taiwan change by use of force.
I have always thought that—as I discussed it yesterday with Admiral Fargo, that there is in international affairs two words that are usually synonymous, that being self-determination and independence, but that in Taiwan you have the one place in the world where they are juxtaposed, that Taiwan can have a maximum degree of self-determination if it does not declare independence. If it declares independence, that self-determination will be immediately placed in jeopardy, and the United States will be involved in ways that could be very stark.
And so it is my understanding that there are some initiatives in Taiwan to seek referendums on an independence movement that our AIT in Taiwan has suggested this might be unhelpful, and so I would like to make it clear that is it the position of the United States Government that looks to support, or is it apprehensive about an independence movement on Taiwan? And it is my understanding that this is inconsistent with U.S. policy. Is that correct? For Secretary LaFleur.
Mr. Lafleur. We, of course, maintain fully our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act. We also, of course, do not support Taiwan independence.
Mr. Leach. That is the Department of Defense's position as well? Secretary Rodman.
Mr. Rodman. It is the President's position and the position of the Administration that that has to change. As you said yourself, there has been continuity, I think, over several Administrations on these principles.
Mr. LEACH. And this is the way that the Department of the Navy looks at it as well. Is that right, Admiral Fargo? Admiral Fargo. Yes, sir. It is fully consistent. Mr. Leach. Fine. Thank you very much. Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank the witnesses for their testimony this afternoon.
I just wanted to ask Admiral Fargo, as I mentioned, that you have a military command that spans for some 100 million square miles, and I am curious what does this mean for soldiers and sailors? How many soldiers and sailors are under your command?
Admiral Fargo. There is a little over 300,000.
Mr. Faleomavaega. How many ships are under your command
Admiral Fargo. The ship count is in the neighborhood of 160 today.
Mr. Faleomavaega. One hundred and sixty? I thought it was 230 at that last count that I had. Maybe not.
And do you foresee—and maybe Secretary Rodman could also be helpful to me. Do you foresee any restructuring of CINPAC, the way it is now composed? Do you see—because it seems that the magic word being taken by the Administration is flexibility, and I am just curious how flexible is CINPAC Command if it comes to any major conflict that we have in the Asia-Pacific region? In your opinion, Admiral Fargo, will you have the flexibility to deal with any given situation in the region?
Admiral FARGO. Congressman, I think I have got clear flexibility, and that is kind of the hallmark of our forces and the hallmark of our strategy.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Sweet and short. I like that.
There was an announcement, I think. Under Secretary Wolfowitz had made an announcement that it was the intention of the Administration to relocate some 37,000 soldiers currently stationed in South Korea further south, I guess, away from the DMZ. What seems to be the reaction of the South Korean Government to this? It seems like it implies that we seem to be running away from our responsibility to shoulder with the South Korean forces if there should be a conflict or if there should be an invasion from the North Korean Army. Can you comment on that, Mr. LaFleur?
Mr. Lafleur. Sir, we have explained in some detail to the Republic of Korea's government our intentions with respect to the movement of the bulk of our forces from their current locations north of Seoul largely into two new hubs to be located around existing facilities further south.
The logic here, I think, is very clear, and I think the Koreans have come to understand what our approach is and to support it. And the logic is that given our new capabilities, the opportunity to further enhance the mobility of our forces and the requirement to be able to deploy our forces rapidly, it makes much more sense to have them repositioned and located in other facilities from which such deployment is possible. In their present locations, north of Seoul, they run into a number of logistical problems in terms of their ability to move rapidly, since these facilities were largely designed for another era of warfare.
But in addition, over some 50 years that we have had many of these facilities, the city of Seoul and surrounding communities have expanded dramatically, and if you fly today overhead over those facilities, you will see the encroachment of new communities around our facilities, which makes it very difficult to maneuver, makes it difficult to train. So moving those forces to new locations, concentrating them, we think, will actually enhance our ability to deter aggression on the Korean Peninsula, as well as to reduce further any possibilities for incidents or frictions.
Mr. Faleomavaega. So you are saying it is mainly because of congestion and logistics and not because of lack of commitment on our part to be part of the defense structure that we have there in defending the South Korean people?
Mr. Lafleur. It is absolutely not because of lack of commitment. As a matter of fact, a few days before our last round talks, General LaPorte, the Commander of United States forces in Korea, reviewed for the Korean public the some $11 billion in investments in our capabilities that we intend to make in our forces in South Korea in the years ahead. So what we are indicating is that we want to move our troops into enduring facilities so that we can sustain the alliance for the long term.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Our security agreement with Japan—and this always seems to be a sticky issue every time. I am talking about Okinawa, and looking at it, it is about as far as away from Japan as you could ever get it, and I am curious if relations between the locals—always the problems dealing with our Marines there—and our Marine force structure there. How many are stationed there in Okinawa?
Mr. Lafleur. About 20,000.
Mr. Faleomavaega. And do you see that our presence in Okinawa is just as vital in that area? Do we really need to be in Okinawa?
Mr. Lafleur. My colleagues may want to comment from their perspective. I think from ours, indeed Okinawa occupies a strategic position in the region, and I think from our point of view, it will continue to do so for many years to come.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Secretary Rodman or Admiral Fargo.
Mr. Rodman. Just briefly, we and the Japanese Government and the Okinawa authorities are looking at adjustments of our presence in Okinawa. As Chris LaFleur said, in the Korean case we want to—there may be ways to have a military presence that is less of a burden on the local population and yet also gives us more flexibility. So we are looking at adjustments, and we have been for a number of years, involved with the Japanese on ways of perhaps realigning our forces there, but we don't expect to leave there. I think we are talking about small adjustments.
Mr. Faleomavaega. The reason why I raise the issue is that I believe the Japanese Government is second only to our government as far as spending on its military capabilities, and maybe you could correct me on that, Admiral Fargo. Is it true that Japan is second only to the United States in spending on its military defense forces? And for that reason, why should we be in Okinawa if the Japanese can defend themselves in that regard?
Admiral Fargo. Well, I can't speak to what the Japanese are spending on their own military forces in a precise number. I can tell you that the host nation assistance the Japanese provide to us is in the neighborhood of $4.7 billion. So it is very substantial.
And so to get back to the fundamental question, certainly, as Secretary Rodman said, you know, we are always looking at the appropriate adjustments with the Government of Japan, but those forces—those marine forces and air forces on Okinawa are absolutely central to our planning and our ability to meet our security concerns in the Pacific.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know my time is up.
Mr. LEACH. Mr. Bereuter.
Mr. Bereuter. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Rodman, in light of the North Korean nuclear development program and their ongoing missile development program, what measurement of concern and interest would there be in Japan on a missile development program? And what would be some assessment of how the Japanese people may have a changing attitude on this, if at all?
Mr. Rodman. In offensive missiles or
Mr. Bereuter. Defensive.