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U.S. SECURITY POLICY IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: RESTRUCTURING AMERICA'S FORWARD DEPLOYMENT

THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2003

House Of Representatives,
Subcommittee On Asia And The Pacific,
Committee On International Relations,

Washington, DC.

The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 12 p.m. In Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. James A. Leach [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.

Mr. Leach. The Subcommittee will come to order. On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to warmly welcome our distinguished Administration witnesses. Appearing before us today is the Honorable Peter W. Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs; Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; and Christopher LaFleur, Special Envoy for Northeast Asia Security Consultations, Bureau for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

We would particularly like to thank Admiral Fargo and the many fine young men and women associated with the Pacific Command for their professionalism in representing America in this crucial part of the world.

In addition, joining us later may well be the gentlelady from Guam, Representative Bordallo.

The purpose of today's hearing is to review the priorities for United States security policy in Asia and the Pacific in light of the global campaign against terrorism, regional threats such as North Korea, technological innovation, as well as our enduring interest in peace and security in this vital region.

As my colleagues are aware, maintaining a robust overseas military presence has historically been a key element of the United States national security policy in Asia-Pacific. The United States presence in the region dating back from World War II has been sustained by forward bases in Japan, South Korea and, until 1992, the Philippines, as well as by active defense cooperation with allied and friendly states in Southeast Asia and Oceania, primarily Thailand, Singapore and Australia.

With the end of the cold war, the basis for our forward-deployed presence shifted from deterring the Soviet threat to ensuring regional stability. This fundamental continued continuity of policy has been maintained by successive United States Administrations, all of which have emphasized the linkage between our network of alliances and friendships to a regional environment in Asia conducive to confidence in economic growth.

The one area where we can say with some certainty that United States troop relocations are imminent is in South Korea. Here it is important to stress that the purpose of these adjustments is to enhance security in the Korean Peninsula, improve our combined defense, promote regional stability, and lay the basis for strengthened relations with our valued South Korean allies.

It is in this context that we note that the two most challenging geopolitical, as contrasted with geoeconomic, problems in the region relate to North Korea and the capricious violence we sometimes call terrorism.

With respect to North Korea, in recent weeks the Administration has augmented its diplomatic strategy toward the North through the development of a proliferation security initiative. As I understand it, largely from the press, this initiative is designed to search planes and ships carrying suspect cargo and to seize illegal weapons or missile technology. We hope to learn more about this approach during the course of our hearing today.

In terms of the campaign against terrorism, it appears that regional extremist networks are larger, more capable and more active than was previously believed. This is a problem in Indonesia, and our allies in the Philippines in particular are presented with a vexing set of difficulties in Mindanao and elsewhere in the southern reaches of the country.

While Congress is firmly supportive of United States assistance to Manila, I would hope the Executive Branch understands the negotiations involving the commitment of U.S. troops to potential areas of conflict are a subject the Administration would be wise to consult Congress about in advance. In that regard, we are fortunate to have before us this very distinguished group of witnesses, and we would look forward to your testimony.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Leach follows:]

Prepared Statement Of The Honorable James A. Leach, A Representative In Congress From The State Of Iowa, And Chairman, Subcommittee On Asia And The Pacific

On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to warmly welcome our distinguished trio of Administration witnesses. Appearing before us today is the Honorable Peter W. Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs, Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, and Christopher LaFleur, Special Envoy for Northeast Asia Security, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State. I would particularly like to thank Admiral Fargo, and the many fine young men and women associated with Pacific Command, for their professionalism in representing America in this crucial part of the world. In addition, joining us again today as an "honorary Member" of the Subcommittee, is the gentlelady from Guam, Representative Bordallo. You are most welcome.

The purpose of today's hearing is to review the priorities for U.S. security policy in Asia and the Pacific in light of the global campaign against terrorism, regional threats such as North Korea, technological innovation, as well as our enduring interest in peace and security in this vital region.

As my colleagues are aware, maintaining a robust overseas military presence has historically been a key element of U.S. national security policy in the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. presence in the region, dating from World War II, has been sustained by forward bases in Japan, South Korea, and until 1992 the Philippines, as well as by active defense cooperation with allied and friendly states in Southeast Asia and Oceana, primarily Thailand, Singapore, and Australia.

With the end of the Cold War, the basis for our forward deployed presence shifted from deterring the Soviet threat to ensuring regional stability. This fundamental continuity of policy has been maintained by successive U.S. administrations, all of which have emphasized the linkage between our network of alliances and friendships to a regional environment in Asia conducive to confidence and economic growth.

The two most challenging geopolitical as contrasted with geoeconomic problems in the Pacific region relate to North Korea and capricious violence we call terrorism.

With respect to North Korea, in recent weeks the Administration has augmented its diplomatic strategy through the development of a "Proliferation Security Initiative." As I understand it, this initiative is designed to search plans and ships carrying suspect cargo and to seize illegal weapons or missile technology. We hope to learn more about this approach during the course of our hearing today.

Change is also imminent in U.S. troop deployments in South Korea. Here it is important to stress that the purpose of these adjustments is to enhance security on the Korea, improve our combined defense, promote regional stability, and lay the basis for strengthened relations with our valued South Korean allies. From a Congressional perspective, there is unanimity in Washington that America's commitment to South Korea has to be steadfast and our alliance held very much unquestioned as the unpredictable unification process with the North proceeds.

In terms of the campaign against terrorism, it appears that regional extremist networks in Southeast Asia are larger, more capable and more active than was previously believed. Our allies in the Philippines, in particular, are presented with a vexing set of problems in Mindanao and elsewhere in the southern reaches of the country. While Congress is firmly supportive of U.S. assistance to Manila, I would hope the Executive Branch understands that negotiations involving the commitment of U.S. troops to potential areas of conflict are a subject the Administration would be wise to consult Congress about in advance.

In any regard, we are fortunate to have before us a distinguished group of witnesses, and we look forward to your testimony.

Mr. LEACH. Mr. Faleomavaega.

Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Once again, I thank you for calling this hearing this afternoon. This hearing completes what I would call probably the—kind of like a stool having three legs, so to speak. The fact that we have just about completed the discussions and dialogue on the three fundamental areas that is within the jurisdiction and responsibility of this Subcommittee of reviewing and assessing United States foreign policies toward the Asia-Pacific region. Previous hearings we held touched upon our Nation's policies, on our trade and commercial interests in the Asia-Pacific region, and how these issues fall within the framework of our overall foreign policies toward this region.

Today we are to assess the current status of our strategic and military interest in the Asia-Pacific region, and it is without question in my mind that our trade and commercial ties to this region is inherently connected with our policies, our national security and the capability of our country to establish a military presence in order to provide not only regional stability, but to protect our interests in this region of the world.

It is always a pleasure for me to remind my colleagues and the American people of how important and vital the Asia-Pacific region is to our Nation. Our country is just as much a part of the Pacific region, and we are a Pacific Nation. Two-thirds of the world's population resides in the Asia-Pacific region. It is my understanding our Nation's trade and commercial ties with the Asia-Pacific region is twice that of Europe or any other region of the world, for that matter.

I recall Senator Inouye's observation about the differences between the Asia-Pacific region and the ties that we have with other regions of the world. Senator Inouye said that for every 747 that

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