By Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake The Chinese, who have been shoving their neighbors around with considerable panache over the last year, upped the ante yesterday with a claim in the official People’s Daily — not yet disavowed by the government — that the PRC may have a claim to Okinawa and others of the… Keep reading →

[Updated Friday 12/21] CAPITOL HILL: It looks like the country’s getting a defense bill for Christmas, with provisions on everything from boosting cybersecurity to sanctioning Iran to loosening export controls on satellites.

In what passes for high efficiency in Congress these days, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees completed their conference on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 only two and a half months after the start of fiscal ’13 and just two weeks before sequestration may make many of their carefully wrought compromises moot. Keep reading →

On Thursday, we published a story about potential problems with the long-delayed move of Marine forces from Okinawa to Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific outlined in a draft GAO report obtained exclusively by Breaking Defense. As you’ll see below, the Pentagon had not seen it. After the article came out, a Defense Department spokesperson, Maj. Cathy Wilkinson, contacted us and then provided the following written rebuttal to the article. Our comments are in italics:

It’s important to note this is a draft report, not a final version of the report. We have not seen the draft report so we can’t comment on it; however, as discussed on the phone, we are concerned with a few points in the article. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Sloppy number-crunching at the Department of Defense means that the official price tag to move 9,000 Marines off Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii, and Australia – already estimated at a whopping $10.6 billion – is probably short of the real cost, according to a draft Government Accountability Office (GAO) report obtained by Breaking Defense.

[Update: Click here for the Pentagon’s rebuttal of GAO] Keep reading →

The Obama administration’s highly touted “rebalancing” of U.S. military forces to the Asia-Pacific region attracted a barrage of flak during a briefing at an influential Washington think tank Monday.

A group of former senior defense and State Department officials criticized the Pacific tilt at the Center for Strategic and International Studies saying the U.S. lacked a coherent, understandable strategy and failed to adjust the plan in light of shrinking funding and trying to hide the strategy’s aim to counter an increasingly aggressive China. (Of course, some in the national security community praise this “strategic ambiguity,” saying it allows us to manage the relationship with China without as much nationalistic chest-thumping as there might be.) Keep reading →

PENTAGON: Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos laid out today the Corps’ tricky balancing act, simultaneously cutting personnel, spreading out weapons programs, and shifting from counterinsurgency on land in Afghanistan to seaborne crisis response in the Pacific.

The big Marine Corps news of the last 24 hours was the award of development contracts to three firms, Lockheed Martin, AM General, and Oshkosh, to work on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace Army and Marine Humvees. The Marines nearly backed out of the program in 2011 over cost concerns. While the Marines are committed to the JLTV today, they are buying far fewer than once hoped. Keep reading →

Holy #V-22!! The Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto will fly in an Osprey at 4:30 with press filming. Take THAT Okinawa protesters! colinclarkaol

The Pentagon and the Japanese government announced early Friday that a dozen Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys are being shipped to Japan for deployment on Okinawa but the planes won’t fly until investigations into two recent crashes of the tiltrotor troop transport are complete.

The announcement – issued the same day four MV-22s were scheduled to fly from North Carolina to England to take part in two international air shows – emphasized that “Japan will be the only location worldwide where the United States will suspend MV-22 flight operations. The United States will continue uninterrupted flight operations of the MV-22 and (Air Force) CV-22 elsewhere around the world, including the continental United States.” Keep reading →

The Obama administration late Thursday announced yet another attempt to settle the prolonged and increasingly bitter clash with Japan over the controversial and expensive plan to relocate thousands of U.S. Marines off the crowded island of Okinawa.

Senior defense and State Department officials said the revised agreement would strengthen the critical alliance between the U.S. and Japan, create a more sustainable plan and demonstrate flexibility by the two governments. The ability to retain about 19,000 Marines in the Pacific also would support the administration’s new strategy that refocuses US defense forces’ attention to the Asia-Pacific region. Keep reading →