Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, June 25, 2003

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Restructuring U.S. Defense Forces in Asia
Leach schedules Thursday examination of possible scenarios

BACKGROUND: After almost two years since the beginning of the war on global terrorism, the Bush Administration is reviewing America’s military posture worldwide, including in Asia. The existence of new threats to American security, coupled with unprecedented military capabilities, makes it "appropriate to look now at how those forces are postured, how we can get the most effectiveness out of them, while maintaining the same basic commitment to stability and deterrence in this region that we have had all along," Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said recently. Although it remains unclear what the Administration’s specific force restructuring proposals will entail for U.S. policy in Asia, the U.S. will begin redeploying troops from its sprawling Yongsan garrison in central Seoul beginning in 2004. Published reports - dismissed by U.S. Defense Department officials - also suggest that plans are "on the table" to move the bulk of Marine forces currently based in Okinawa to Australia, and that Washington is "seeking agreements to base Navy ships in Vietnamese waters and ground troops in the Philippines." Malaysia is also mentioned as one of the places where Washington wants to establish a "network of small bases," which will reportedly serve as "launching pads for moving U.S. forces quickly and clandestinely to future areas of conflict."

WHAT: Oversight hearing, U.S. Security Policy in Asia and the Pacific: Restructuring America’s Forward Deployment, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, James A. Leach, Chairman

WHEN: 12 Noon, Thursday, June 26, 2003

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: Peter Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs; Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command; and Christopher LaFleur, Special Envoy for Northeast Asia Security, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

Questions to be raised during the hearing:

bulletAre widely rumored U.S. plans for force restructuring relieving or creating regional anxiety in Asia and the Pacific?
bulletWhy is the U.S. redeploying its forces away from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the Korean peninsula? Will the lack of a "tripwire" mean a reduced U.S. commitment to South Korea’s security? What is the timetable for the movement of U.S. troops south of the Han river?
bulletWhat is the outlook for American bases on Japan, particularly Okinawa? Will the Marine Expeditionary Force currently stationed on Okinawa be relocated elsewhere in the region, and if so, where?
bulletIn the past, U.S. officials have pointed to the figure of approximately 100,000 armed forces personnel as a tangible signal of America’s commitment to Asian security. Given new technological innovations and the ability to strike from long distance, does it make sense to remain fixated on numbers of troops deployed to the theater?
bulletWill the U.S. seek to negotiate new "access arrangements" in Southeast Asia that would serve as "launching pads" for moving U.S. forces quickly and quietly to regional hot spots or humanitarian disasters?
bulletWhat is the likelihood that U.S. Special Forces and other troops will be committed later this year to counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines?

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