Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Announces New U.S. Navy Strategy
According to The Daily Beast, the new Navy "force projection" would mean a 10% increase in the amount of ships in the Asia-Pacific area by 2020 — from 50% of the Navy's warships to 60%.
Panetta released these details in front of an audience of military personnel and politicians from both Asian and Western countries, some of whom were suspect about the U.S. intentions in moving a greater military force into the Asia-Pacific area.
In particular, Panetta had hoped to assuage some sentiment in the attendees of the security forum that the U.S. was trying to stifle China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region, saying:
"Make no mistake—in a steady, deliberate, and sustainable way—the United States military is rebalancing and brings enhanced capabilities to this vital region."
Panetta's announcement was met with mixed reviews, as the announcement comes in the midst of several high profile international conflicts in the region, such as the sovereignty battle in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines, which is a matter of high international interest due to the region's significance to trade, according to MSNBC.
According to the New York Times, after Panetta's announcement, many of the forum's attendees, including Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natelgawa, still expressed wariness toward the U.S. plans, saying:
"What worries us is having to choose — we don’t want to be put in that position... The Pacific is sufficiently accommodating to provide not only for the role of China and the United States but of emerging powers, too."
Other attendees were skeptical about the U.S.'s abilities to fund the new strategy, given President Obama's $500 billion Pentagon budget cut.
At the conference, Panetta also announced details about new U.S. military developments, including improvements in electronic warfare, Virginia submarines, and an advanced fifth-generation aircraft that for the moment is named the "Joint Strike Fighter."