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THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF ASIAN RESEARCH NBR ANALYSIS VOLUME 14, NUMBER 2, August 2003 Theater Security Cooperation in the U.S. Pacific Command: An Assessment and Projection Sheldon W. Simon [This page intentionally left blank.] Foreword In his June 26 testimony before the House International Relations Committee’s Subcommittee onAsia and the Pacific, Pacific CommanderAdmiral Thomas Fargo highlighted the importance of the theater security cooperation (TSC) program to the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Admiral Fargo noted that PACOM’s TSC activities enhance U.S. influence in Asia,strengthenmilitary-to-militarycooperation,provideaccessforforward-basing,forwarddeployments , and pre-positioned supplies, and increase interoperability with U.S. partners in the region. To help ensure that its TSC program is maximally effective, PACOM asked The National Bureau ofAsian Research (NBR) to undertake an assessment of U.S. security cooperation in the Asia Pacific. This article is the result of a one-year study conducted by Dr. SheldonSimon,ProfessorofPoliticalScienceatArizonaStateUniversityandChairmanofthe Advisory Board of NBR’s Southeast Asia Studies Program. The study examines whether existing U.S. bi- and multilateral security frameworks are sufficient to respond to the growing range of transnational threats and potential crises arising fromAsia, and outlines what form multilateral security cooperation should take. In his article, Dr. Simon assesses PACOM’s TSC objectives and activities in three substantive categories: 1) military-to-military exercises and the problems of interoperability, 2) anti-terrorism and anti-crime cooperation; and 3) the future of U.S. special relationships with Australia, Japan, and South Korea. Through his interviews and field research, Dr. Simon has obtained both U.S. andAsian perspectives on PACOM’s TSC activities. He focuses on the varying abilities of the TSC partner countries’ armed forces to interact with U.S. forces, and explores the issue of compatibilities between PACOM’s goals and those of its varied partners. This is particularly salient given the current debate over changes in force posture and positioning in theAsia Pacific, through which the United States seeks to enhance its ability to deal with traditional security threats, such as on the Korean Peninsula and in the Taiwan Strait, to continue to guarantee the security of the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in SoutheastAsia, and to respond to new transnational challenges such as the threat of international terrorism. 75 Dr. Simon finds that even though PACOM has promoted multilateral military exercises and other TSC activities, both for diplomatic reasons and to improve interoperability and burden sharing in non-combat operations (e.g., peacekeeping, search and rescue, and antipiracy missions), all of its TSC partners prefer bilateral exercises with the United States. Bilateralexercisesareperceivedtobringgreaterbenefitsintermsofimprovingthecapabilities of each partner’s armed forces. In this regard, ensuring that such activities are appropriate to the needs of the partner countries is important, and has been done with recent changes to the Cobra Gold and Balikatan exercises in Thailand and the Philippines, which increasingly focusonstrengtheninginternalsecuritycapabilities . Dr. Simon argues that the widespread problem of interoperability between PACOM and its TSC partners is of particular concern.All partner armed forces, regardless of their level of modernizationandprofessionalism,seethemselvesfallingfurtherandfurtherbehindU.S.military capabilities and, therefore, less able to interact with U.S. armed forces. This has significantimplicationswhenclosetreatyalliesthatmightbecapableofandwillingtoassumegreater burdensharingasregionalsecuritypartners,suchasJapanorAustralia,findthemselvesunable to interoperate fully with U.S. forces. Dr. Simon notes that greater releasibility of U.S. military technologywouldresolvethisproblem.Otherwise,closecollaborationbetweenregionalarmed forces and the United States may be increasingly impractical. Under these circumstances, high-tech activities and logistics (e.g., sea- and airlift) will likely remain a U.S. responsibility, whileAsian partners operate in more limited roles. NBR would like to acknowledge the U.S. Pacific Command (AdmiralWilliam Sullivan and the J56 officers in particular) and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for their generous support to this study and the production of this article.As with all issues of the NBRAnalysis, the author is solely responsible for the content and recommendations of his paper. RichardJ.Ellings President The National Bureau ofAsian Research 76 Theater Security Cooperation in the U.S. Pacific Command: An Assessment and Projection Sheldon W. Simon The September 11 terrorist attacks have not radically altered the U.S. strategic position in the Asia Pacific. Bilateral alliances persist, as do forward deployments in Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Maintenance of the free flow of international commerce through the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) continues to be a significant task of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, and deterring North Korea while balancing China’s growing capabilities remain responsibilities of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Nevertheless, September 11 has added a...


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