U.S. strategic power in the Pacific theater is waning, experts from one of our key allied nations in the area believe.
Budget concerns, an “atrophying force,” and the rise of Chinese influence are key reasons, according to a white paper published by the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia.
The authors cite several specific areas of concern. Among them:
* The ongoing wars in the Middle East, slim budgets and a lack of investment in defense spending.
* Chinese “counter-intervention systems” have placed that nation in a position to prevail in conflicts using “limited force.”
* A prevailing “outdated superpower mindset” at the Pentagon that could limit U.S. ability to “scale back other global commitments or make strategic trade-offs required to succeed in the Indo-Pacific.”
The authors also site political polarization, growing deficits and public debt, and parts of the Pentagon budget that are growing faster than the rate of inflation. Additionally, incidents of military accidents are evidence that the U.S. military may not be ready for power competition in the theater.
The authors advised the Australian government to take steps to reinforce its alliances with the U.S. and other partner nations, accelerate its own capabilities to fend off potential aggressors, and develop plans to pursue a strategy that factors in realistic cost estimates.