Asia-Pacific commanders fear budget cuts would put security at risk
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
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sunlight reduces risk of nearsightedness in children, study suggests
- Protest in Cleveland over 12-year-old’s shooting death chokes off traffic
- Maine State Prison draws Black Friday shoppers
- Bombers to train over Plains
- Boys in New York buried for hours in snow pile
- FBI uses journalists as bait for terrorists, escapee from Syrian group says
- Ferguson-related unrest disrupts Black Friday shopping in several cities
- U.S. releases ‘forever prisoner’ from Gitmo
- Premiums to rise for Obamacare’s most popular plans
- Oregon recounts votes on measure to label GMO foods
- Florida high school prostitution ring busted