U.S. national security strategy and arms control in the Pacific

by James A. Winnefeld

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This paper discusses various arms control proposals that would have major effects on the security of the Pacific Rim. While an effective arms control agreement between NATO and the Soviet Union in Europe could do much to reduce the security problems of that region, a similar agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union would leave many potential security problems in Asia unresolved or even exacerbated. U.S. obligations require a significant forward-deployed military presence in the region. Even without a Soviet threat, the United States would need two-thirds to three-fourths of the forces now there. The Soviets propose to limit the size, duration, and number of naval exercises. They also suggest prior notification of exercises and exchange of observers for such exercises, and they have proposed notification of transfers of a specified size between "Zones of Naval Groups." The intent is to keep the U.S. Navy at a distance from Soviet or other advocate states or to limit the weapons that the Navy can mount. These limitations would deny the United States the ability to contribute to Japanese security, to protect the oil lines from the Persian Gulf and other oil fields and to demonstrate support of its exposed friends. The author recommends seizing the initiative, an approach that would require some adjustment in the current position of the administration but that would help maintain a secure environment on the Western Pacific Rim.

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