Pentagon considers bulking up Pacific fleet

The details regarding specific numbers of ships, subs and planes, along with where they would be based in the region, are still being reviewed by senior DOD officials, according to Robert Scher, deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans. 

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There are no current plans to increase the number of attack subs or bombers in the Pacific. 

DOD is "taking another look" at basing these additional military assets at the U.S. outpost in Guam, which is already home to Andersen Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam and Naval Forces Marianas, Scher told members of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee on Wednesday. 

During the same hearing, David Helvey, acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Pacific, added that "there are opportunities to move forward with [deployments to] Guam and send an important signal to the region." 

U.S. Marines currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan, are already scheduled to redeploy to based in Guam and a new outpost in Australia as part of the Pentagon's new Pacific strategy.

That Australian base, located in Darwin, is expected to house 2,500 Marines once fully staffed. 

The idea for funnel more subs and bombers into the Pacific was first introduced in a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a defense and national security think tank based in Washington. 

In the report, CSIS analysts suggested adding the naval assets into the region would act as a deterrent to China's growing military capabilities to deny access to territorial waters in the Pacific. 

The group also recommended permanently relocating a B-52 squadron of 12 aircraft to Guam and do away with Pacific Command's practice of rotating bomber squadrons from bases within the continental United States. 

While DOD is considering bulking up its Pacific forces, Pentagon officials are adamant that possible growth would not result in additional American bases in the region. 

Aside from the Marine Corps base in Darwin, "we're not really interested in building any more U.S. bases in the Asia-Pacific [and] we shouldn't have to at this point in time," Pacific Command chief Adm. Samuel Locklear told reporters in June. 

"We will continue to look with our allies and our partners for opportunities to be able to partner with them to do [shared] usage of those facilities," Locklear told reporters at the Pentagon at the time. 

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