Rebalancing U.S. Forces: Basing and Forward Presence in the Asia-Pacific, edited by Carnes Lord and Andrew S. Erickson
This is the sort of book that I really enjoy reading that is probably not going to have a very large reading audience. Nevertheless, size isn’t everything. Those people who are passionate about American geopolitical concerns as well as policy decisions and the sort of diplomatic efforts as well as basing concerns that will lead to future efforts at passing budgets for the U.S. Navy’s priorities. Those who read this book will have an interest in those larger geopolitical trends and goals and the long-term logistical and operational capabilities of the Navy. Although this may not be a particularly large body of readers, those who read this book will almost certainly be very interested in what they see and also intrigued in what is not present and in the meaning of the omissions as well as the statements that are included.
Having not read this book yet (since I just got in the mail today) I cannot note its contents in detail. That said, a quick look at its contents suggests that this book has some interest in both what it includes and what it does not. It includes essays on such island bases as Guam and Diego Garcia and Singapore (each of which get their own chapters), essays on such allies as South Korea, Japan, and Australia. It also includes a chapter on Central Asia and the role of sea basing. Some of the omissions I found to be really interesting and noteworthy, such as the omission of discussion of nations like the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and India. It is possible that some or all of these nations appear in the chapter on sea basing, but they do not have any chapters of their own, while Singapore is being considered a “forward base” in Asia, presumably in Southeast Asia.
So, what sort of person would find this book to be of interest? Anyone with interests, either business or political, in the Asia-Pacific region would probably be interested in gathering such information as they can about American capabilities and intentions as can be gleaned by a document like this. Given the close involvement of the Naval Historical Press as well as people from the Naval War College in this particular book, it is clear that this work presents military thought and planning with an eye towards public consumption. For those of us interested in such matters, regardless of our political inclinations (or lack thereof), this book represents an opportunity to see what key naval figures have to say about their plans for the future of the Navy and its involvement in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Such an opportunity is not to be missed.