The United States will move the majority of its Navy warships to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, as part of a new military strategy to increase US presence in Asia, Defense Secretary says.
Speaking at the annual security conference in Singapore on Saturday, Leon Panetta said the Pentagon will deploy six more aircraft carriers and a majority of its cruisers, destroyers and submarines and littoral combat ships, which operate near-shore sites, to the region over the next years and by 2020.
The US Defense Department will also deploy more sophisticated submarines and fighter air craft, together with new electronic warfare capabilities and communications systems to the region.
While insisting it will take years to finish the transition, Panetta declared that Washington’s budget problems and cutbacks will not hinder the new military strategy.
“It will take years for these concepts, and many of the investments we are making, to be fully realized,” Panetta said.
“But make no mistake, in a steady, deliberate and sustainable way, the United States military is rebalancing and brings enhanced capabilities to this vital region,” he added.
The US move is expected to increase tensions with China, as the shift in the US focus in the region is regarded by several critics as Washington’s attempt to contain China’s emergence as an international power.
Beijing has already expressed its dismay at any larger US presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Earlier in January, China’s state media warned Washington against “flexing its muscles”, saying that any US militarism would “endanger peace.”