U.S. Asian Allies Raise Regional Stakes With Military Spending

By Michael Fabey
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
July 22, 2013
Credit: Indian Defence Ministry

As the U.S. starts to refocus its efforts on the Asia-Pacific, some of America's largest partners and allies in the region are set to make significant military investments of their own, especially for procurement and research and development (R&D).

As a group, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are slated to spend about $1.4 trillion on military programs between 2013 and 2018, an estimated 55% increase over the $919.5 billion the countries spent between 2008 and 2012, according to an Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) analysis of data provided by Avascent Analytics, a Washington-based company that provides an online toolkit for market analysis of global defense programs.

The Pentagon and U.S. Navy brass have cited treaties and relationships with regional partners and allies as driving forces behind the “Pacific pivot” of American forces to the area.

But while the U.S. is establishing a relatively small footprint of additional assets in the region—compared with most recent years—the AWIN/Avascent analysis shows most partners and allies are planning a much bigger expansion of their own, collectively and independently.

The greater military interest in the region by the U.S. coincides with recent modernization and flexing of Chinese military might as the Asian giant seeks to anchor some of its disputed territorial claims.

Tensions are high. “China is very edgy,” says William Choong, the Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow at the Singapore-based International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia (IISS). “They feel they are being circled.”

Choong says the extra U.S. presence could provide a false sense of security, especially if it emboldens smaller countries in the region to confront China on a variety of “hot” issues on that side of the globe.

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