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Though it may not constitute an arms race, there is little doubt that nations across the Asia-Pacific region are modernizing their militaries and acquiring new and improved capabilities. At an AEI event on Tuesday, two expert panels highlighted and assessed implications of some of the major modernization efforts of the U.S., China and India, as well as the military modernization of America's traditional allies and partners.
Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution and AEI's Dan Blumenthal kicked off the first panel by emphasizing that the U.S. and China view each other's intentions warily, especially because each country is taking advantage of emerging technologies to bolster its military capabilities. Chuck Jones of the Lockheed Martin Corporation then commented that India will continue to modernize, but in "fits and starts."
In the second panel, AEI's Michael Auslin shifted the focus to Japan, noting the tension between Japan's more cautious political elite and its "increasingly confident" Self Defense Forces officer corps — a tension that has complicated Japan's ability to define its regional role. Bruce Bechtol of Angelo State University then stressed the need for the South Korean military to ramp up its ballistic missile defense capabilities to defend itself against North Korea.
Mark Stokes of the Project 2049 Institute alleged that there is overlooked potential for the U.S. and Taiwan to broaden cooperation on defense issues of mutual interest such as responding to cyber-espionage. Michael Mazza commented on the worrisome trend of declining defense spending in Australia, a U.S. treaty ally and strong regional partner.
Together, the panels demonstrated that there are reasons for optimism as well as concerning trends in the Asia-Pacific region.
This year, Asian military spending is expected to exceed Europe’s military spending for the first time in history. Moreover, Asian nations are funding the development of significant new capabilities. China’s first aircraft carrier embarked on its maiden voyage last year; Japan announced its intention to acquire F-35s; and India tested a long-range missile capable of striking Beijing, China.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is implementing a new operational concept called AirSea Battle. What factors are propelling this widespread military modernization? What are the implications for the military balance in Asia? Is Asia in an arms race? At this AEI event, two expert panels will examine major trends in Asian military modernization to assess their impact on power dynamics in the region.
Panel I: The Asia-Pacific Poles
Dan Blumenthal, AEI
Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings Institution
Chuck Jones, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Thomas Donnelly, AEI
Question and Answer Session
Panel II: U.S. Allies and Partners
Michael Auslin, AEI
Bruce Bechtol, Angelo State University
Michael Mazza, AEI
Mark Stokes, Project 2049 Institute
Gary J. Schmitt, AEI
Question and Answer Session
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Michael Auslin is both a resident scholar in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies and the director of Japan Studies at AEI, where specializes in U.S.-Asian relations, U.S. security policy and Asian regional security issues. He also writes a column for The Wall Street Journal on Japan and Asian security. Before joining AEI, Auslin was an associate professor of history at Yale University and a senior research fellow at Yale’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. He also taught as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo. He received the Nakasone Yasuhiro Award for Excellence in 2010 and has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund and an Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society. His writings include the award-winning book “Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy” (Harvard University Press, 2004), as well as “Pacific Cosmopolitans: A Cultural History of U.S.-Japan Relations” (Harvard University Press, 2011) and the report “Security in the Indo-Pacific Commons: Towards a Regional Strategy” (AEI Press, 2010). He also appears regularly in U.S. and foreign media, commenting on current Asian and security issues.
Bruce Bechtol is an associate professor of political science at Angelo State University. He was formerly on the faculty at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College (2005-2010) and the Air Command and Staff College (2003-2005). Bechtol also served as an adjunct visiting professor at the Korea University Graduate School of International Studies (2006-2007). He was an intelligence officer at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from 1997 until 2003, eventually serving as the senior analyst for Northeast Asia in the Intelligence Directorate on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. Before serving at the DIA and becoming a professor, Bechtol was on active duty in the Marine Corps (1977-1997). Formerly the editor of the Defense Intelligence Journal (2004-2005) and a member of the editorial review board of the East Asian Review (2005-2009). He is currently on the editorial advisory board of the Korea Observer (2011-present). He serves on the board of directors of both the International Council on Korean Studies and the Council on U.S.-Korean Security Studies. He is the author of “Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security” (Potomac Books, 2010) and “Red Rogue: The Persistent Challenge of North Korea” (Potomac Books, 2007). He is also the editor of “Confronting Security Challenges on the Korean Peninsula” (Marine Corps University Press, 2011).
Dan Blumenthal is the director of Asian Studies at the AEI, where he focuses on East Asian security issues and Sino-American relations. He has recently become a research associate at the National Asia Research Program, a joint undertaking of the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has served on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission since 2005, including as vice chairman in 2007, and has been a member of the academic advisory board for the congressional U.S.-China Working Group. During George W. Bush's first administration, Blumenthal was the senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the U.S. Office of the secretary of defense for international security affairs. He has written articles and op-eds for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review and numerous edited volumes. This fall, he will publish a book entitled “An Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century,” an economic and national security view of China.
Thomas Donnelly, a defense and security policy analyst, is the co-director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI. He is the co-author of “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (AEI Press, 2010). Among the books he has recently collaborated on are “Ground Truth: The Future of US Land Power” (AEI Press, 2008), “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (AEI Press, 2007), “The Military We Need” (AEI Press, 2005) and “Operation Iraqi Freedom: A Strategic Assessment” (AEI Press, 2004). Donnelly was policy group director and a professional staff member for the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services from 1995 to 1999 and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is a former editor of Armed Forces Journal, Army Times and Defense News.
Chuck Jones joined Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, in June 2005. Previously, Jones served as the deputy director of the Pentagon’s Tsunami Relief Task Force. From January 2004 to January 2005, he served as the director for Asia on the National Security Council, responsible for Japan, Australia, New Zealand, North Korea and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Jones, a career U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) civil servant, came to the National Security Council from the Office of the Secretary of Defense where he was country director for Korea and oversaw the realignment of U.S. forces based in the ROK. Before that assignment, Jones was the senior policy and plans analyst for Northeast Asia in the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, where he helped negotiate terms for U.S. access to North Korea for the purpose of obtaining the remains of American military personnel. In that capacity, he traveled to North Korea on several occasions. Before joining the DOD, Jones enjoyed a 21-year-long career as an army officer. His awards include the Legion of Merit and the Republic of Korea Samil Medal.
Michael Mazza is a senior research associate in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at AEI, where he studies U.S. defense policy in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese military modernization, cross-Strait relations and Korean security. In addition to writing regularly for AEI’s Enterprise blog, he is also the program manager for AEI’s annual Executive Program on National Security Policy and Strategy. In his previous capacity as a research assistant at AEI, Mazza contributed to studies on American strategy in Asia and Taiwanese defense strategy. Before, he worked as a policy analyst assistant at the Science Applications International Corporation and as an intern at Riskline Ltd.. Mazza has written op-eds for The Wall Street Journal Asia, the Los Angeles Times, National Review Online, Foreign Policy, The Weekly Standard and The American.
Michael O’Hanlon, a specialist in national security and defense policy, is the senior author of the Brookings Institution’s Iraq and Afghanistan Index projects. Before joining Brookings, O'Hanlon worked as a national security analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. His current research agenda includes military strategy and technology, Northeast Asia, the U.S. Central Command and defense budgets. O’Hanlon is a member of General David Petraeus’s external advisory board at the Central Intelligence Agency. His most recent books include “The Wounded Giant” (Penguin, 2012) and “Bending History” (Brookings Institution Press, 2012).
Gary J. Schmitt is the director of both the Program on Advanced Strategic Studies and the Program on American Citizenship at AEI. Schmitt is a former staff director of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. During former president Ronald Reagan’s second term, he was the executive director of the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Schmitt's work focuses on long-term U.S. strategic security issues both in the domestic and international spheres. He has been a contributing author and co-editor of a variety of books, including “Safety, Liberty, and Islamist Terrorism: American and European Approaches to Domestic Counterterrorism” (AEI Press, 2010), “The Rise of China: Essays on the Future Competition” (Encounter Books, 2009) and “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (AEI Press, 2007). He has also co-authored the book “Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence” (Brassey’s, 2002) with Abram Shulsky.
Mark Stokes is the executive director of the Project 2049 Institute. Previously, he was the founder and president of Quantum Pacific Enterprises, an international consulting firm, and the vice president and Taiwan country manager for Raytheon International. He has served as the executive vice president of Laifu Trading Company, a subsidiary of the Rehfeldt Group; a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and a member of the board of governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. A 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, Stokes also served as the team chief and senior country director for the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.