TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Asia-Pacific commanders fear budget cuts would put security at risk

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 8:27 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. military officers in the Asia-Pacific said on Tuesday that budget cuts could hurt the ability of American forces to respond to a security crisis, including on the Korean peninsula.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, Pacific commander, said U.S. allies are carefully watching American defense spending, and are starting to question U.S. “staying power” as a guarantor of security.

Locklear and Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who commands U.S. forces in South Korea, were testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on the Defense budget for 2015, which trims spending and aims for a smaller, more modern force rather than a larger one less prepared for combat.

Some in Congress, however, view that as an approach that weakens U.S. capabilities in a period of growing uncertainty in Europe and Asia. Senators in particular voiced concern about the double-digit annual growth in China's defense spending and development of more and better warships and submarines, and the threat posed by a nuclear North Korea.

In prepared testimony, Locklear said budget uncertainties “ultimately reduce our readiness, our ability to respond to crisis and contingency as well as degrade our ability to reliably interact with our allies and partners in the region.”

Scaparotti said U.S. forces in Korea are “fully resourced,” but he voiced concern about the readiness of “follow-on” forces that would be needed if a security crisis broke out on the divided peninsula. The United States retains 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a formal peace treaty.

Scaparotti said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is less predictable than his predecessor and so poses a greater threat.

He said a recent spate of tests of Scud missiles from a new, rapid-fire multiple rocket launcher were intended to demonstrate North Korea's capabilities to the United States and South Korea as they hold annual military exercises.

South Korea said North Korea fired what appear to be two mid-range ballistic missiles just hours after Pyongyang rivals South Korea, Japan and the United States met in the Netherlands to discuss the country.

A South Korean military official said the likely Rodong missiles flew about 400 miles off North Korea's east coast early Wednesday. It wasn't immediately clear where the missiles splashed down.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Sunlight reduces risk of nearsightedness in children, study suggests
  2. Protest in Cleveland over 12-year-old’s shooting death chokes off traffic
  3. Maine State Prison draws Black Friday shoppers
  4. Bombers to train over Plains
  5. Boys in New York buried for hours in snow pile
  6. FBI uses journalists as bait for terrorists, escapee from Syrian group says
  7. Ferguson-related unrest disrupts Black Friday shopping in several cities
  8. U.S. releases ‘forever prisoner’ from Gitmo
  9. Premiums to rise for Obamacare’s most popular plans
  10. Oregon recounts votes on measure to label GMO foods
  11. Florida high school prostitution ring busted
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.