December 01, 2022

The Kadena Conundrum: Developing a Resilient Indo-Pacific Posture

This article originally appeared in War on The Rocks.

The long-standing debate over whether the United States is prioritizing China and the Indo-Pacific region has reignited once more. The debate centers on U.S. posture — the forces, bases, and agreements that constitute America’s overseas military presence and make up the backbone of the U.S. Department of Defense’s deterrence strategies — in the Indo-Pacific.

Ultimately, it will take the United States and its allies and partners working together to deter China, the goal of integrated deterrence.

The U.S. Air Force decision in October 2022 to remove two squadrons of aging F-15C/D fighters at Kadena Air Force Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa and replace it with a temporary detachment to cover the Kadena fighter mission sparked a firestorm. The announcement was quickly followed by numerous criticisms leveled by members of the Congress as well as regional and defense experts, many of whom have called for augmented posture in the Indo-Pacific to deter Chinese aggression. Their arguments cite a misalignment between resources and strategic priorities. If China’s developing military power renders it the U.S. Department of Defense’s priority pacing challenge, then why is the Pentagon removing key air assets that could contribute to holding Beijing at bay rather than doubling down on strengthening regional posture?

Read the full article from War on The Rocks.

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