US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta addressed a National Press Club Luncheon on Dec.18, discussing what lies ahead for the U.S. military.
He said the force of the future will be smaller, but it won’t simply draw back to the United States and wait for the next war. Instead, the U.S. military will remain active globally though regular rotations of forces to conduct training and advising missions.
According to the Associated Press, Panetta warned that the budget stalemate and lawmakers' spending choices are among the greatest threats to the U.S. military today, making it difficult to fund programs that best keep troops ready to fight.
If the automatic cuts are not avoided, the Pentagon could face about $500 billion in across-the-board budget reductions, he said. Failure to find a solution "will weaken this nation in the minds of our allies, our partners, and our potential adversaries.”
Panetta believes that as long as the nation doesn't go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year, the military will still be able to defeat multiple adversaries in different theaters at the same time.
“That means if we're engaged in a conflict on the Korean Peninsula and Iran attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz, we must be capable of being able to respond decisively to both locations,” he said.
In order to fight in two wars in the future, Panetta said the Pentagon will invest in its aircraft carrier fleet, big-deck amphibious fleet, a new afloat forward staging base and long-range strike capabilities.
Panetta added that the shift of resources to the Pacific is the top priority of US military. US navy will reallocate its fleet to achieve a 60/40 split between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans by 2020.
America’s most advanced aircrafts, including F-22s and the MV-22 Ospreys, are being deployed in Japan, laying the groundwork for the first overseas deployment of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Japan’s Iwakuni in 2017.
F-35 has been billed as the next-generation stealth fighter. It can travel at speeds of Mach 1.6 — about 1,200 mph — and can land on ships or damaged runways, according to the web site for developer Lockheed Martin Corp. Panetta said these deployments are in line with the military’s “Pacific pivot” strategy.
But more than forward deploying American hardware around the globe, the United States is working to streamline the process by which U.S. companies, or the services, sell equipment to allies.
Panetta said the foreign military sales process needs to become “more responsive and more effective to cut through the bureaucracy and cut through the red tape to be able to provide the assistance that we need to other countries without delay, particularly seeking to boost defense trade with rising powers like Brazil and India”.
Panetta, 74, is expected to leave his post soon. He said earlier he plans to return to California. According to a Washington Post report, former Repubican senator Chuck Hagel is the top contender for the Defense Secretary job.
U.S. may deploy F-35 stealth jets to Japan in 2017
F-35 fighters could be stationed at the Iwakuni base in Japan's Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2017 in what would be the first overseas deployment of the stealth aircraft, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.
The F-35 is being developed by an international consortium led by U.S. aircraft giant Lockheed Martin Corp.
The envisioned deployment is part of U.S. efforts to reconfigure its global posture to emphasize the Asia-Pacific region in the face of China's military buildup.
Panetta said in a speech in Washington that the plan to enhance the U.S. military presence and capabilities in the region includes "the first overseas deployment of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Iwakuni in 2017."
Panetta did not specify the number of F-35s it plans to deploy to the base in western Japan.
The Pentagon is believed to want to replace the F/A-18 fighters at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni with the F-35B, a marine variant of the F-35 capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.
Iwakuni is expected to be used for training of the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
The Pentagon is also considering deploying F-35s at the U.S. Air Force's Kadena base in Okinawa but has not revealed any details on the possible timing.
The United States aims to procure 2,400 F-35 fighters, while Japan plans to purchase 42 for the Air Self-Defense Force.
Panetta also said the Pentagon aims to reallocate the U.S. naval fleet to achieve a ratio of 60-to-40 between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans by 2020.
The United States will also locate its "most advanced aircraft in the Pacific — including new deployments of F-22s and MV-22 Ospreys to Japan,"