Washington: The US is reviewing its global deployment of forces to ensure it is postured appropriately to counter the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), given the increasing threat posed by China to Asian countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.
Pompeo made those remarks in response to a question during the virtual Brussels Forum 2020 of the German Marshall Fund.
“We are going to make sure we are postured appropriately to counter the PLA. We think that the challenge of our times, and were going to make sure we have resources in place to do that,” Pompeo said.
The force posture review is being done at the direction of President Donald Trump, as part of which the US is reducing the number of its troops in Germany from about 52,000 to 25,000, he said.
Pompeo said the force posture would be dictated by the ground realities. “In certain places there will be fewer American resources. There will be other places — I just talked about the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, so now threats to India, threats to Vietnam, threats to Malaysia, Indonesia, South China Sea challenges, the Philippines,” he said.
President Trump is being criticised for reducing troops from Germany. His critics say that this will increase the threat from Russia to Europe. Pompeo, however, did not agree with that argument.
It has been a long time since there has been a strategic review of our force posture all across the world. The US undertook that starting about 2.5 years ago, whether that was our forces in Africa, our forces in Asia, the force we have in the Middle East and in Europe, he said.
“We began to say these are often decisions that were made in a different time. Should we reallocate those a different way? Should we have a different composition of those forces? Everyone always wants to talk about ground troops. I get it. I was a young tank officer. You described that. There is nothing I like as much as a good M1 tank.
“But its often the case that the capacity to deter Russia or other adversaries isn’t determined any longer by just having a bunch of folks garrisoned someplace. So, we really went to back fundamentally relook, what is the nature of the conflict, what is the nature of the threat, and how should we allocate our resources, whether that is our resources in the intelligence community, our resources from the Air Force or the Marines and Army,” Pompeo said.
Last week, Pompeo criticised the Chinese Army for ‘escalating’ the border tension with India and militarising the strategic South China Sea. He also described the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) as a ‘rogue actor.’
“Our broad set of allocation of security apparatus, our ability to counter cyber threats, how do we allocate them? What is the best way to do this? And the decision that you see the president made with respect to Germany is an outcome from a collective set of decisions about how were going to posture our resources around the world,” said the top American diplomat on Thursday.
Changes in force posture is being taken in consultation with allies and friends, Pompeo said. “President Trump has spoken to this. (Defense ) Secretary (Mark) Esper will be in London today and in Brussels tomorrow. We will talk about our plan and how we are thinking about delivering it,” he said.
“But you should understand this, and I hope our European partners will understand this as well. When you see what we ultimately conclude, how we ultimately deliver on the statements of the president made, that they’re aimed squarely at what we believe to be democracies fundamental interest and certainly America’s most fundamental interest,” Pompeo said.
Earlier this month, Pompeo had said that China’s actions, be it on the India border, or in Hong Kong or in the South China Sea, were part of the behaviour of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing in the recent past.
China has been fast expanding military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region, triggering concern in various countries of the region and beyond.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are vital to global trade.