U.S. Forces Are Taking a Dense Penetration to Southeast Asia

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said that though there are budget cuts and war-weary voices in the States, the United States will not stop expanding military involvement in the Asia Pacific region, the United States will deploy new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in Singapore, and carry out more exercises with Australia. At the same time, he edgewise expressed strong concern on China's development of anti-ship missiles and other "anti-access" strategies. He said the United States will improve its ability of sea-air joint operations in response. The speech was given in a Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, on June 4.

Gates said the United States will continue to develop sea-air battle plan, to strengthen and expand its operational capability outside Japan and South Korea, spread to Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and more areas.

To this end, the United States will deploy new LCSs in Singapore and reserve more supplies to expand the parking capacity of U.S. warships; enhance joint training to improve its ability to respond to humanitarian disasters.

The LCSs is the key to achieve its strategic transformation "from sea to land". The type of ship which is required a displacement of less than 3,000 tons, is mainly for offshore operations, to complete tasks the traditional major combat surface ships cannot, to take coasts control as the vanguard for the carrier battle group. With the open architecture, its hull can be recombined and can be assembled and collocated with different weapons systems according to mandate requirements, known as "plug and play". The "Mission Configurable Module" enables it to quickly "Switch" among anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, mine warfare and other areas, and to coordinate with Naval Special Forces' infiltration. It is expected as the "Almighty Ship" in the future. In addition, relying on its strong stealth features and draft of less than 3 meters, the LCS can secretly travel near to the enemy coastline to help Special Forces land or perform non-military tasks, such as anti-smuggling, drug smuggling investigation, humanitarian relief operations and so on.

U.S. officials said the ships will not take Singapore as a home port, but will often start operations from there.

Gates also said the U.S. will strengthen cooperation with many Southeast Asian countries in the next few years. "We will take a series of measures in the Asia Pacific region to establish a defense posture, which is geographically more dispersed, operationally more flexible, and politically more sustainable."

On the same day, Chinese defense minister met with New Zealand Defense Secretary Wayne MAPP. MAPP said both New Zealand and China are important Asia Pacific countries; New Zealand welcomes China to play a more important role in the region. He hopes to promote further development of military relations through the high-level visits and strategic dialogues.

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