It recommended in a report made public last week stationing one or more additional attack submarines in Guam to provide what it called a critical edge against “anti-access, area denial” - technologies being developed by China to keep the U.S. military at bay.
CSIS listed as another option permanently relocating a B-52 squadron of 12 aircraft to Guam, rather than the current practice of rotating in from bases in the continental United States.
The central geostrategic uncertainty that the United States and its allies and partners face in the region “is how China’s growing power and influence will impact order and stability in the years ahead,” the CSIS review said.
It said U.S. forces can help shape the peacetime environment by standing behind U.S. security commitments - a move the review said would “dissuade Chinese coercion or North Korean aggression.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced plans to “rebalance” U.S. naval forces from a nearly 50-50 split between the Atlantic and the Pacific to a 60-40 mix in favor of the Asia-Pacific. The details of this shift have not been spelled out, although officials have said much of the buildup will involve new ships.
Sher, in joint written testimony to the panel with David Helvey, an acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for the region, said the Defense Department agreed with the CSIS assessment that “there are opportunities to move forward with Guam and send an important signal to the region.”
Neither additional bombers nor additional attack submarines are in current U.S. plans for the region but will be considered based on CSIS’s “good work,” Scher told Reuters after the hearing.
David Berteau, director of the CSIS International Security Program and a co-director of the review, said Guam cold absorb additional submarines without a huge amount of extra military construction costs, for instance for pier space or shore facilities.
The Defense Department also will continue to explore opportunities with the Philippines, a treaty ally, of deploying forces to unspecified “priority areas” to enhance maritime security, the Defense Department officials testified.