According to a senior defense official, the Pentagon will prioritize the construction of bases in Guam and Australia in order to better prepare the US military to counter China.

The moves were prompted by the Defense Department’s global posture review, which President Joe Biden directed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to conduct shortly after taking office in February. In March, Austin began the global posture review. The review is classified, but a senior defense official revealed some of its findings.

Dr. Mara Karlin, acting as deputy under secretary for policy, said at a briefing on Monday that Biden “recently approved” Austin’s findings and recommendations from the global posture review.

According to the senior defense official, the Indo-Pacific region was a major focus because of Secretary Austin’s emphasis on “China as the pacing challenge” for the Department.

As tensions with Beijing have risen, particularly over the issue of Taiwan, the Biden administration has made countering China its top foreign policy priority, and senior Pentagon officials have publicly expressed concern about China’s efforts to upgrade and modernize its military. Last month, Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that China had successfully tested a hypersonic missile, bringing the country “very close” to a Sputnik moment.

To counter China, the review directs the Department to improve “infrastructure in Guam and Australia,” prioritize “military construction across the Pacific Islands,” and seek “greater regional access for military partnership activities,” according to the official.

“You’ll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments in Australia, ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation, and a range of infrastructure improvements across the Indo-Pacific, in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Australia,” Karlin said during the briefing.

According to the official, the global posture review also directs the Department to focus more on the Indo-Pacific region by “reducing” the number of troops and equipment in other parts of the world “to enable improved warfighting readiness and increased activities” in the Indo-Pacific.

Concerning Russia, the Department declined to provide specifics on how the global posture review is directing the US military to prepare to counter Moscow’s threats. One of the review’s broad goals is to “re-establish readiness standards,” so that the US military is “agile and responsive to crises as they emerge,” according to the official.

When pressed on the issue, a US military official stated that the US military is working to “re-establish readiness” in Eastern Europe “with the goal of strengthening a combat credible deterrent vis-Γ -vis Russia and the specific requirements of that region,” but they would not go into further detail on how the US military is preparing to counter Russia.

In the Middle East, the review directed the Department to “continue to support the defeat ISIS campaign” with the current US military presence in Iraq and Syria, as well as to continue working on building “partner forces’ capacity” in those countries. However, the review instructs Austin to “conduct additional analysis on enduring posture requirements in the Middle East,” according to the official.

The official stated that Afghanistan was not officially included in the global posture review because there is a “separate” National Security Council-led “process” that is “reviewing the way forward for US presence there.”

When putting together the review, the US had “something like 75 consultations” with allies and partners, including “NATO allies, Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and over a dozen partners across the Middle East and Africa,” Karlin said.

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