The U.S. Department of Defense believes that American forces lack sufficient logistics capabilities in Asia to refuel and rearm in the event of an armed conflict in the region, a document reveals.
The Pentagon’s assessment, which appears in the long-term program planning document for the U.S. Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) submitted to Congress by mid-April, strikes a note of urgency.
“Current theater logistics posture and capability to sustain the force are inadequate to support operations specifically in a contested environment,” the document says.
The U.S. Marines are eyeing the dispersal of forces along the first island chain — spanning Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines — in a form of warfare known as expeditionary advanced base operations. This involves establishing temporary staging bases for anti-ship missiles, air defenses and intelligence gathering, which are used for only a short time before moving on to the next location.
Jacob Stokes, a fellow in the Indo-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security, said there is a “trade-off between efficiency and resilience.” The more spread out forces are, the harder they can be to refuel and rearm.
“A more distributed force posture can be more resilient in the face of adversary attacks,” Stokes said. “But it also means forces in many different places need logistical support that might only be available in some of those places.”
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