Following the announcement that the United States will partner with Australia on the expansion of a major naval facility in Papua New Guinea, the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney has released a new report on American military power in the Indo-Pacific authored by David Ochmanek, a senior international/defense researcher at RAND Corporation and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development.

The report 'Wisdom and will? American military strategy in the Indo-Pacific' finds that the United States has the ability to sustain a favourable balance of power in Asia, but risks failing to do so on its current trajectory. Ochmanek identifies practical steps the US military could take to improve its capabilities and posture; and warns that a loss of confidence in America’s capacity to project power in the region could undermine the alliances that have kept the peace for so long.

"If American policymakers can make sound decisions about how to evolve the capabilities, operating concepts and posture of their armed forces, and embed these in sensible policies for the region, a balance of power can be sustained," notes Ochmanek.

"This is not a question of resources or technology; it is a question of American wisdom and will."

Key points

  • The United States and its allies and partners should be working hard to preserve, adapt, strengthen and extend their security ties and their ability to work together in the defence of common interests.
  • Confidence in the ability of American forces to project conventional power in the region is critical to maintaining the coalition keeping the peace and advancing common strategic interests. 
  • Securing the investment and innovation needed to maintain this confidence is not a question of means, but a question of wisdom and will. 

View report

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