The Shelves Are Stuffed (and Ikea’s Not Selling Extras)

I have a piece out in War on the Rocks, on the limitations of “enhancing” the U.S. forward presence in the Western Pacific. In short: putting additional forces at our existing (and vulnerable) bases doesn’t add any value; there’s no appetite among allies to provide new bases or access arrangements, especially if we’d want to deploy land-based missile systems; and focusing on putting military forces forward is probably the wrong way to approach the issue in the first place.

For all the posturing over the absolute necessity of deploying missile and forces forwards now, just because the United States wishes it does not mean it will happen. New basing options cannot simply be willed into existence.

Insofar as it’s only been a day, I think it has been well-received. Mike Mazarr, in particular, wrote a very nice thread about the need to reconsider our assumptions of access and how those affect force structure and acquisition planning themselves:

Blake Herzinger points out, however, that I got the nature of U.S. arrangements with Singapore wrong, and he’s right: the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore not a “basing” agreement so much as it is a “facility use” and rotational deployment one, which “facilitates US’ forces access to Singapore’s air and naval bases, and provides logistic support for their transiting personnel, aircraft and vessels.” It’s an important distinction and I’m glad he called me out on it.

At any rate, I think it’s worth your time to read! There are a few portions I wish could have made it into the final version, particularly regarding Guamanian statehood, allied precision weapons proliferation, and robust access agreements made during peacetime, but it stands well on its own.