Changes a’brewin’ in Pacific Command — MUST READ!!!

Yes, readers — it’s two MUST READS posted on the same night. But man, if this piece is correct — and the very reliable blogger who sent it to me indicated it might be — then we’ve got some significant changes ahead in the U.S. force structure in the Asia-Pacific region as well as changing security ties with regional partners. Here’s just some of it:

American defense officials in Washington, at the Pacific Command at Camp Smith and in Asia have spent many months seeking to bring Rumsfeld’s policy to reality. They have fashioned a plan intended to strengthen the operational control of the Pacific Command, enhance forces in the U.S. territory of Guam, tighten the alliance with Japan and streamline the U.S. stance in South Korea.

As pieced together from American and Japanese officials, who cautioned that no firm decisions have been made, the realignment shapes up like this:

Army: The Army headquarters at Fort Shafter would become a war-fighting command to devise and execute operations rather than to train and provide troops to other commands as it does now. The U.S. four-star general’s post in Korea would be transferred to Hawai’i.

I Corps at Fort Lewis, Wash., would move to Camp Zama, Japan, to forge ties with Japan’s ground force. Japan would organize a similar unit, perhaps called the Central Readiness Command, to prepare and conduct operations with the U.S. Army.

Japanese officials are considering elevating the Self-Defense Agency to a ministry and renaming Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force as the Japanese Army and the same for the navy and air force. Shedding those postwar names would reflect Japan’s emergence from its pacifist cocoon.

In South Korea, the U.S. plans to disband the Eighth Army that has been there since the Korean War of 1950-53, to relinquish command of South Korean troops to the South Koreans, and to minimize or eliminate the United Nations Command set up during the Korean War.

A smaller tactical command would oversee U.S. forces that remain in South Korea, which would be down to 25,000 from 37,000 in 2008. That may be cut further since Seoul has denied the U.S. the “strategic flexibility” to dispatch U.S. forces from South Korea to contingencies elsewhere.

Is it just me, or does it seem the Japanese aren’t out to make friends in the region? (Not that I blame them)

Read the rest on your own.