UPI Intelligence Watch

By JOHN C.K. DALY, UPI International Correspondent  |  Oct. 11, 2006 at 12:26 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter
Sign up for our Security newsletter

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense's restructuring plans for the Western Pacific have aroused ire in both Japan and Korea.

Stars and Stripes reported Oct. 4 that a senior Department of Defense official warned Seoul that if they do not contribute more money to refocusing U.S. defense commitments there could be consequences.

Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless told journalists: "The United States will have to cut its military capabilities in South Korea if the South Korean government doesn't come up with more money to support the U.S. military presence in that country. We don't feel that this is an equitable arrangement."

Lawless said that the Department of Defense wants share the cost of the U.S. military in South Korea about 50-50.

Seoul currently shoulders about 38 percent of the costs of sustaining a U.S. military presence in South Korea, while according to Lawless Japan currently pays more than 70 percent of the cost of hosting U.S. military forces.

In contrast to Lawless' assertions, Seoul maintains that as U.S. troop deployment in South Korea shrinks to about 25,000 as forces are sent elsewhere, South Korea should pay less to support the ongoing U.S. military presence.

Lawless threatened that if South Korea's government does not agree to provide more fiscal support the Pentagon will have to make "real cuts" in its South Korean deployments, but did not provide specifics.

Lawless said: "When we cut through the fat and we cut through the muscle and we cut into the bone, then we have to make decisions and we have to decide if we're going to cut capabilities, we have to decide if we're going to cut personnel, we have to make really hard decisions that begin to damage the capability of the alliance. That's the cusp of the decision. That's the decision point that we're at.

"It's simply a matter of discussion and a matter of compromise, I think, between the two sides as to what would be the optimum structure for receiving against responsibility for the conventional defense. I am very hopeful that we will be able to reach agreement, but I won't speculate on what the process would be if we don't."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is continuing to diverge from Republican policies set in Washington.

In San Pablo, Schwarzenegger supported four proposition bond measures that would provide about $40 billion for highways, port security, affordable housing, flood protection and schools.

The Contra Costa Times reported that Schwarzenegger is sufficiently estranged from the Bush administration that he declined to appear with President George W. Bush during a visit to California, instead choosing to campaign for passing the propositions.

Standing before one of Contra Costa County's most rundown schools, Schwarzenegger on Oct. 3 urged Californians to support the ballot measures next month.

Speaking at Contra Costa College Schwarzenegger said: "Right now, we have an infrastructure in this state that is meant for 20 million people, but definitely not 37 million people. People in California are upset they're getting stuck in traffic. They should be at home with their families. The people of California recognize that we need to rebuild California. It's like when you invest in a company."

Regarding the propositions, a poll last week by the Public Policy Institute of California found that the infrastructure bonds were a leading issue among voters but that support was declining.

Contra Costa College President McKinley Williams said: "We've had so many years of neglect that it's starting to catch up with us. We can't just use local money to fund this stuff. We need some help from the state."

Schwarzenegger's visit to San Pablo had been planned as a bipartisan rally with Democratic legislative leaders. Proposition supporters Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, declined to attend and Schwarzenegger did not answer questions about their non-appearance.

Supporting Schwarzenegger at the Contra Costa rally was Democrat Sunne Wright McPeak, saying, "Voters will get an immediate return on their investment."

Schwarzenegger pursued his statewide campaign rather than accept an opportunity to appear with President Bush, who was in Stockton campaigning for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. Schwarzenegger said he had different priorities than the president.

Schwarzenegger dismissed the appearance of a political rift by telling supporters: "He's really not here on business; he's here on fund-raising activities. To me, (the bond campaign) is more important than a meeting with the president."

India is Russia's second-largest arms market after China, and American arms manufacturers are eager to break into the market.

U.S. aerospace manufacturers are closely following Air Chief Marshal S. P. Tyagi's request for new combat aircraft to refurbish the dwindling squadrons of the Indian Air Force and the Indian government's decision to buy 126 new multi-combat aircraft.

In elaborating on the government's decision, Union Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on the sidelines of a seminar on "Defense-Industry Interface" organized by the Indian Air Force: "The Indian Air Force will buy 126 multi-role combat aircraft and details will be finalized shortly."

Tyagi wrote a confidential letter to the government stating that the number of Indian Air Force fighter squadrons was currently 34 operational units, down six squadrons from a military estimate of 40 necessary squadrons. Each Indian Air Force squadron is composed of 20 aircraft.

Aging equipment is at the heart of the problem. By 2011, the Indian Air Force would be down by another five squadrons after phasing out its MiG-21 fighter planes.

The Indian Air Force has grounded two Adampur squadrons in Punjab in the wake of recent Indian Air Force MiG-29 fighter crashes in the past few months.

Since the beginning of the year, the Indian Air Force has lost two MiG-21s and two MiG-29s, along with another MiG-29 in a crash near Jamnagar, in Gujarat, in June. In 2005, the Indian Air Force lost eight fighter aircraft.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories