Report to Congress on U.S. Defense Infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific

June 13, 2023 7:36 AM

The following is the June 6, 2023, Congressional Research Service report, U.S. Defense Infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Indo-Pacific occupies a central role in U.S. national strategy and hosts a large number of U.S. military forces. To enable the operation of these forces and accomplish its strategic objectives, the United States maintains and uses at least 66 significant defense sites spread across the region. This defense infrastructure network performs and supports numerous military functions, including basing for military personnel and weapon systems; domain awareness and area defense; maintenance and repair; training and exercises, storage and prepositioning of materiel; and research, development, testing, and evaluation activities. Some Indo-Pacific installations are located in U.S. states, territories, or possessions (such as Hawaii and Guam); others are located in allied or partner nations (such as South Korea and Japan). In addition to installations directly owned or operated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. military also makes use of sites operated by allied or partner nations (such as the Philippines and Australia).

DOD’s basing posture in the Indo-Pacific reflects in part the legacy of decisions made under the geopolitical and technological conditions of the Cold War. Following the Obama Administration’s announcement of a “pivot to Asia,” the focus of U.S. strategy (and with it, regional defense infrastructure) shifted toward prevailing in competition against peer or near-peer rivals—particularly the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Since 2011, the United States has negotiated access to 12 new defense sites in the Philippines and Australia, constructed new installations in Japan and Guam, and expanded facilities at dozens of existing installations across the region. Congress’ role in these developments has included, for example, appropriating over $8.9 billion for new military construction projects at Indo-Pacific sites since fiscal year (FY) 2020 and establishing infrastructure improvements as an investment priority through the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI).

Issues that Congress may consider include (1) whether DOD’s current regional basing posture adequately supports strategic goals and operational requirements, and (2) whether the construction, maintenance, and utilization of defense infrastructure is appropriately resourced and managed. Within these issue areas, particular questions that may be raised in the 118th Congress include:

  • What criteria should inform the placement of U.S. bases in the Indo-Pacific, and what role should Congress play in determining those criteria?
  • How can DOD optimize the organization, operation, and resilience of its Indo-Pacific installations, and what assessment and oversight options are available to Congress?
  • What is an appropriate level of investment for military construction, facilities sustainment, and related infrastructure activities?

Download the document here.

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