US Naval fleet to expand in Asia-Pacific

US plans to increase its naval presence in Asia-Pacific will see 60 percent of its fleet move to the region by 2020m as opposed to about 50 percent today, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue forum.

This will include six aircraft carriers, most of the US Navy’s cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and first littoral combat ships (LCS). Panetta stressed the move is not directed against China, whose growing economic and military power as well as push for territorial rights in the oil-rich South China Sea are causing friction with its neighbours.

“It’s to build that kind of relationship recognizing that we are going to have disputes, that we are going to have conflicts but also recognising that it is in the interest of both China and the United States to resolve these issues in a peaceful way,” Panetta said.

This year, though, China has downgraded its presence at the forum, being represented by vice president of the Academy of Military Sciences and not the Defence Minister Liang Guanglie like in 2011.

The Shangri-La Dialogue marked the start of Panetta’s seven-day visit to the region aimed at explaining to allies and partners the details of the new US military strategy unveiled in January 2012. Stops include India and Vietnam, countries that have become increasingly important to the US. In Vietnam, Panetta visited former American and South Vietnamese Cam Ranh air base, becoming the highest-ranking official to do so since the Vietnam war.

Picture credits:
© CC- BY-SA-2.0; 2012-01-22 Official U.S. Navy Imagery at
Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Original source: