25 April 2014

Statement of Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on U.S. Pacific Command Posture

Solid-though-predictable content overall, but a few of the most interesting nuggets excerpted below. Great use of the term “Indo-Asia-Pacific”! This goes well with Admiral Locklear’s description of PACOM’s Area of Responsibility as ranging “from Hollywood to Bollywood.” It’s not as if we need too many more acronyms in the government-security studies lexicon, but I think “IAP” should make the cut.

Statement of Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on U.S. Pacific Command Posture, 25 March 2014.

p. 3: “We’ve seen encouraging examples of states using international fora to resolve disputes peacefully, such as the Philippines using the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to argue its case against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and Thailand’s and Cambodia’s pledge to abide by the International Court of Justice’s recent decision in their long-standing border dispute.”

p. 4: “North Korea remains our most dangerous and enduring challenge.”

p. 5: “Though we have not yet seen their ‘KN08’ ICBM tested, its presumed range and mobility gives North Korea a theoretical ability to deliver a missile technology that is capable of posing a direct threat to anywhere in the United States with little to no warning.”

p. 6: “The Indo-Asia-Pacific region is the world’s most disaster-prone with eighty percent of all natural disaster occurrences. It contends with more super-typhoons, cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes, and floods than any other region.”

“The primacy of economic growth, free trade, and global financial interdependency keeps outright inter-nation conflict at bay. The most likely scenario for conflict in this part of the world is a tactical miscalculation that escalates into a larger conflict. There is no more likely stage for this scenario than the complex web of competing territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. Competing territorial claims in East is a significant and growing threat to regional peace and stability. The use of Coast Guards and an implicit rule set imposed by Japanese and Chinese leadership signaled that neither country wants escalation.”

p. 7: “As Chinese and Japanese reconnaissance and fighter aircraft increasingly interact, and China flies unmanned aerial vehicles over the area the chances for miscalculation or misunderstanding remain high. USPACOM continues to watch this situation very closely.”

“Through multilateral forums, USPACOM supports the U.S. position advocating for adjudication of claims by duly constituted international bodies and multilateral solutions. Unlike other nations involved in this and similar disputes, China consistently opposes international arbitration, instead insisting on bilateral negotiations—a construct that risks China’s domination of smaller claimants. The activities by multilateral forums to adopt international codes of conduct for the South China Sea and those efforts to legally adjudicate claims need our support.”

pp. 9-10: “During 2013, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy conducted the highest number of open ocean voyages and training exercises seen to date. This included the largest ever Chinese military naval exercise observed outside the first island chain and into the Western Pacific, highlighting an enhanced power projection capability and increased ability to use military exercises to send political messages to regional allies and partners and others in Asia.”

p. 10: “China’s advance in submarine capabilities is significant. They possess a large and increasingly capable submarine force. China continues the production of ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The platform will carry a new missile with an estimated range of more than 4,000 nm. This will give the China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014.”