Expert: U.S. Pacific Bases ‘All Under Threat’

Littoral combat ship USS Independence demonstrates maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific / AP

Littoral combat ship USS Independence demonstrates maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific / AP

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The Pentagon is building up its bases in the Pacific in an effort to survive a possible Chinese missile attack, USA Today reports.

The strategy is part of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia. The Pentagon is particularly worried about threats from Chinese missiles that could limit access to the region by U.S. ships, planes, and troops.

Chinese ballistic missiles — termed anti-access, area denial weapons — mean that virtually every U.S. base in the Pacific is under “heavy threat,” said Michael Lostumbo, director of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Study. A RAND report found that 90 percent of the bases were within 1,080 nautical miles of China, the distance it defined as being under heavy threat. […]

RAND identified three options for dealing with the threat: moving bases out of missile range, hardening aircraft hangars and dispersing aircraft to limit the damage any one attack could exact.

Pentagon strategists are re-examining bases such as Kadena on Okinawa because its proximity to China makes it particularly vulnerable, a senior officer said. The other reason to explore options, according to another senior officer, is to disrupt planning by the Chinese military and keep it guessing. Both officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.