Archive for the ‘Guam’ Category

My 2011 Master’s Thesis Now Available: Looking at China’s A2/AD Capabilities and U.S. Perceptions of the Challenge

April 24, 2012

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally been cleared to post my 2011 master’s thesis, entitled “AMERICAN PERCEPTIONS OF CHINA‘S ANTI-ACCESS AND AREA-DENIAL CAPABILITIES: IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC.” I completed the research on it in May 2011, defended it in June in front of a thesis committee featuring a pair of highly-regarded defense and security experts in Taiwan (Dr. Wen-cheng Lin of National Sun Yat-sen University, who served as my thesis advisor, and Dr. Andrew N. D. Yang, Taiwan’s currently serving Deputy Minister of National Defense), and then made my post-defense revisions throughout the summer, finally completing the work in September. It’s basically been in various states of review for release since then. I suppose it is only fitting that I am finally able to release it on the occasion of the joint Chinese and Russian naval drills taking place in the Yellow Sea and the anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Enjoy!


The post-Cold War world has created a number of important new challenges to the United States‘ power projection capabilities. The worldwide network of bases and stations that enabled the U.S. to contain the Soviet Union have, in many cases, been made into liabilities. U.S. dependence on fixed, vulnerable ports and airfields for the buildup of combat power, as seen in the 1990-91 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War, have shown potential foes like China and Iran that it doesn‘t pay to allow penalty-free access and freedom of action in maritime, air, and space commons. In the Western Pacific, China has pursued an anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) strategy, developing capabilities designed to deny U.S. freedom of movement in the region.

This study examines U.S. perceptions of China‘s growing A2/AD capabilities and their implications for U.S. military operations in the Western Pacific through the analysis of authoritative official and unofficial U.S. documents and studies. This work establishes a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of Chinese A2/AD capabilities through American eyes, updating previous comprehensive works in key areas such as the status of China‘s anti-ship ballistic missile, conventional ballistic and cruise missile capabilities and their implications for key U.S. facilities in the region, and new technology and platforms like China‘s first aircraft carrier and stealth aircraft.

The thesis concludes that the U.S. has been slow in reacting to Chinese A2/AD developments and that it is unlikely that continued Chinese military modernization (including the refinement and development of additional A2/AD capabilities) will end in the near future. For the U.S., this means that development and implementation of a truly joint concept for counter-A2/AD operations, as well as the right mix of military capabilities to carry out such operations, cannot be delayed any longer.

View this document on Scribd

Guam buildup decision to be released Sept. 20 – Air Force News, news from Iraq – Air Force Times

September 11, 2010

Been a while since we’ve checked in on the Guam buildup  – here’s the latest.

Guam buildup decision to be released Sept. 20 – Air Force News, news from Iraq – Air Force Times.

Asahi Shimbun interview with former U.S. Pacific Command commander

April 23, 2010
ADM Keating

ADM Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.)

The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, today ran a long and long-ranging interview with retired Admiral Timothy J. Keating, U.S. Navy, the former commander of the United States Pacific Command.

Keating’s remarks ran the gamut of topics this blog likes to deal with, from China – U.S. relation, U.S – Japan relations, the U.S. military buildup on Guam, Taiwan Strait security, the situation on Okinawa related to the relocation of the Futenma Marine air station, and more.  It’s worth reading in its entirety, reproduced for you here in whole after the jump.  But first, a few highlights:

  • On China’s naval modernization:  “They’ll never get better than we are. We’re going to work hard to ensure that that’s the case.”
  • Why it is preferable to have U.S. Marines forward-deployed in Okinawa: “Because they’re there now. And neither one of our countries can afford to, in my opinion, undertake the cost attendant to moving those 18,000 Marines from Okinawa to some other location in Japan.”
  • On a “rising China” as a strategic threat to the U.S. and American allies in the Asia-Pacific: “I’d be careful focusing entirely on China. There have been a couple of opportunities, in similar engagements today, where folks tried to concentrate the conversation on the growing Chinese threat and the likelihood of fighting China. I don’t see it that way.  We have to remain strong, the alliance, the forces of our two countries, and those of our two allies and partners in the region. It is not exclusively to counter Chinese military growth.  If China is less forthcoming than we want them to be, if they develop tactics, techniques, procedures or capabilities that could threaten access or deny area access, then we would have to be prepared to respond. But I do not see a situation in the near term that would require specific focus on China.


Latest update on the Guam relocation

March 6, 2010

Here’s another new article from Stars and Stripes that does a nice job of summing up very concisely the current state of affairs related to the Guam relocation.  It’s interesting that what is most often stressed about the proposed realignment plan, as in this article, is the commonly referred to “not-in-my-backyard” issue – as in, we want the security that forces like U.S. Marines provide, but we don’t want them to come too close to where we live.  Candidly, I think that most of our Asia-Pacific allies and partners would prefer for us to be closer to the potential rising threats in the region rather than farther away, but it is not popular politically for them to express this sentiment publicly.  As for the people of Guam…I think they feel like a train is coming and they are on the tracks.  In the long-term, the relocation might bring some benefits to Guam (economically, etc.), but there is so much “pain” required to get to that point (congestion on the island, changes in their accustomed way of life, and so on) that few look at it in that way.

Guam expansion central to U.S. realignment strategy in Asia

By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
Online Edition, Friday, March 5, 2010

RELATED STORY: Uncertainty surrounds future of U.S.-Japan military alliance

TOKYO — When it comes to regional security, many Western Pacific nations like the idea of thousands of U.S. Marines permanently stationed close by. As long as they are not too close.

As part of a complex plan to reduce the sprawling American military presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa, U.S. officials approached Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Australia about the possibility of hosting permanent new American military bases.

All four said no.

That left tiny Guam, which for more than six decades has served as a reliable American staging point during wars and an often-forgotten port and air strip during peacetime.

Military leaders say that maintaining a stable home for U.S. troops in Asia is vital for security in a region where Islamic extremists are fighting in the Philippines and Indonesia, North Korea remains erratic and threatening, and China is seeking to expand its economic and military influence.

Even if that stable home is more than a thousand miles from Japan.

“It’s a U.S. possession that’s the closest to Asia,” said Rick Castberg, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. “I think the military sees it as invaluable.”

What’s more, the plans for stationing 8,600 Marines on Guam fit with the military’s emphasis on building long-lasting bases around the world that can provide rapid, flexible response in times of crisis. And it’s a friendly home for U.S. military assets that are not always welcome elsewhere, such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and high-flying Global Hawk surveillance drones.

“Guam is, in some ways, the poster child for that kind of notion, where you can operate as you need to, to take on new challenges flexibly,” said Derek Mitchell, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. “It is central, I think, to realignment strategy.”

Many on Guam embraced the proposed U.S. expansion and the prospect of additional federal money for the island’s crumbling infrastructure and struggling public services. The long-term military investment — an estimated $10.3 billion for the Marines’ move alone — would put money back into a part of the United States, another benefit of building inside the country, Mitchell said.

But as plans have evolved, so have concerns about how the island’s 178,000 residents will handle a huge spike in permanent population, which will be an estimated 34,000 new troops, civilian workers and dependents. The fast-paced construction schedule also could add nearly 80,000 temporary workers to the island by 2014.

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sharply criticized as “inadequate” the environmental impact statement that the military prepared in advance of the Guam expansion, noting that the massive project would “exacerbate existing substandard environmental conditions.”

Among the environmental agency’s concerns: threats to 71 acres of coral reef in Guam’s main harbor and contamination risks to the island’s only freshwater aquifer.

Other critics on Guam are concerned about plans to build expanded firing ranges and increase training flights on the island.

Madeleine Bordallo, Guam’s delegate to Congress, said last month she would withdraw support for the buildup unless the Pentagon slows its construction plans. Around the same time, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who chairs the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee, visited Guam and Japan and said he shared concerns about the construction schedule.

“Specifically, the U.S. government should recognize the needs and sensitivities of the people and the limitations of space on the island,” he said in a written statement after the trip. “If the United States remains committed to an active forward presence in Asia, and an increased U.S. military presence on Guam, then it must demonstrate that commitment by providing the civilian infrastructure and services needed to support an increased population on the island.”

Yet the military doesn’t seem to be backing down. In fact, it’s asking Guam to do more. The Army is now looking at Guam as one of five possible locations for its new joint high speed vessels.

“When God gives you a gift,” said Stephen Yates, a senior fellow in Asian studies for the American Foreign Policy Council, “it’s good to use it.”

Taiwan president to visit Guam

March 3, 2010

In an interesting collision of a pair of frequently discussed topics on this blog, I saw today that Taiwan’s president plans to visit Guam later this month as a part of a series of visits to various locations in the South Pacific.

More on the Guam military buildup

February 26, 2010

Bookmark and Share
Yesterday I saw a bit of news blasting the Guam DEIS from the perspective of the EPA, and today the Joint Guam Project Office (JGPO) responded that they saw the criticisms coming:

JGPO anticipated pushback on DEIS

Posted: Feb 26, 2010 7:53 AM TST Updated: Feb 26, 2010 7:53 AM TST

Guam – Responding to the USEPA’s concerns with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the military buildup, Joint Guam Program Office Spokesperson Major Neil Ruggerio says although they have worked closely with the EPA and other federal and local agencies during the development of the DEIS, they fully anticipated that formal agency comments would point out deficiencies and areas requiring revision.

The USEPA found the DEIS to be “environmentally unsatisfactory”. Ruggerio says the Department of Defense is committed to working with the EPA and other federal agencies to fund solutions for existing issues on Guam.

In reality, no matter how long the military would have taken to put together the DEIS (bear in mind that the released proposal took several years to complete), for a project of this scope there is no way that the finished (draft) product could be able to assuage the concerns of “all comers.”  Of course there are going to be problems with the DEIS and the buildup it describes – it involves a great deal of change.  Of course JGPO expected “pushback.”  What will be interesting to see is whether the controversy over the buildup in the wake of the release of the DEIS will actually succeed in materially changing the scope of the buildup project or if it effectively slows the project implementation timeline.  Construction is supposed to start this year, but the DEIS has to be approved first.  I would bet that the real impact will come from the Japanese and what they decide this May about the U.S. Marine airbase on Okinawa, not from issues like this coming from Guam.

Guam to U.S. Military: “We have our foot on the brakes”

February 18, 2010
Bookmark and Share

Well, I had been wondering how the whole Guam Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) business concerning the relocation of some 8,000 Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam was playing out.  Not unpredictably, there’s some, umm, pushback.  Courtesy of Stars and Stripes:

Guam leaders balk at U.S. military buildup

TOKYO — Guam’s leaders in recent days have ratcheted up criticism of a proposed massive military buildup, with the island’s sole delegate to Congress vowing to withdraw support unless the Pentagon slows its plans.

In her biennial speech Tuesday night to the Guam Legislature, Madeleine Bordallo asked the Navy to stretch the construction phase to eight to 10 years as the military moves 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

Currently, the plan calls for reaching the construction peak in four years, a move that could temporarily add nearly 80,000 people to the island by 2014.

“We will do everything that we can, federally and locally, to stop that from happening,” Bordallo said during her address. “We have our foot on the brakes.”


More Marines coming to Guam?

January 14, 2010

I ran across this opinion piece while browsing at and couldn’t resist putting it up here.  It speaks to the challenge that U.S. officials are going to have “selling” the proposed Guam buildup to the people of Guam and the friction that has been caused in the timeline for the project by the Japanese government’s decision to re-consider its 2005 agreement with the U.S. about relocating a Marine airbase on Okinawa and transferring several thousand American Marines from Okinawa to Guam (read more about it in my last post on the subject here).

I wonder how those Draft EIS public hearings on Guam went?

More Marines coming to Guam? Japan wants to make it official.

Posted: Jan 13, 2010 7:27 AM TSTUpdated: Jan 13, 2010 7:40 AM TST

by John Davis

Guam – New stories coming out of the Japan Media report Japan’s Social Democratic Party is pushing not just for the relocation of Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam, but also for the complete closure of the Futenma Air Base and relocation of at Least 2,000 additional military personnel and 3,000 dependents to Guam.

The Futenma Air Base is located in the center of Ginowan City, which lies just north of the Okinawan military base where the first surge of military personnel will come from during the Guam buildup.  The Futenma Air Base covers 480 hectares or 1,200 acres, which makes up a quarter of land in Ginowan City.  The 2006 plan negotiated between the United States government and the Japan government included relocating Marines from Okinawa to Guam and the closure of Futenma and it’s relocation to an existing Marine base called Camp Schwab, which lies a few hundred meters away from the current Futenma base location.  Did you see this coming?  I did.

Read the full article at

More Marines coming to Guam? Japan wants to make it official. – News: On Air. Online. On Demand..

%d bloggers like this: