The Pentagon has reportedly backed a proposal to support U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region with some $7.5 billion in investments to boost infrastructure, exercises, troop deployment and naval assets.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the plan, first proposed by Senator John McCain, is supported in principle by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and head of the U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris, though details have not yet been developed.
“I don’t understand all the details in Senator McCain’s plan, but I support the themes that he outlined and the importance he assigned to that region,” the Journal quoted Mattis as saying during a recent Congressional hearing.
The so-called Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative is viewed as an attempt to boost confidence in America’s commitment to the region in response to heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and in light of President Donald Trump’s shift away from his predecessor’s “rebalance” to Asia policy.
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Enhancing U.S. military presence in the region is likely to reassure allies South Korea and Japan, though it may require diplomatic massaging with China, which sees American assets in Asia as a threat to its own interests, according to the Journal.
The Trump administration has requested a $54 billion increase in military spending for the next fiscal year, though it is unclear where that money will be allocated and how supporters of the Asia initiative plan to secure funding. The plan is to be rolled out over the next five years.