The U.S. Army in Southeast Asia

The U.S. Army in Southeast Asia: Near-Term and Long-Term Roles

Peter Chalk
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    The U.S. Army in Southeast Asia
    Book Description:

    This RAND report examines the U.S. Army role in Southeast Asia. Under current benign conditions, efforts should focus on supporting defense reform, addressing transnational threats, and balancing China. If the outlook deteriorates, the United States should increase security cooperation, conclude new regional basing agreements, expand disaster assistance, and create policies to encourage risk-averse Chinese behavior.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8427-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Summary
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    On her second visit to Asia following Barack Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced, “The United States is back.”¹ This reorientation—or as it later became known, pivot—became official policy in January 2012 with the release of new Defense Strategic Guidance that explicitly enunciated the need to reengage the Asia-Pacific as the United States extricates itself from protracted military engagements in Southwest Asia (Afghanistan) and the Middle East (Iraq).² Two questions have since arisen as a result of Washington’s recalibration. First, what is the current security environment in the Asia-Pacific, and...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Current Strategic Outlook in Southeast Asia
    (pp. 3-6)

    The current security environment in Southeast Asia is largely benign. There is practically no risk of a major interstate war in the region at present, and virtually every government has benefited from a high degree of internal legitimacy afforded by sustained economic growth. Just as significantly, most of the substate insurgent and terrorist challenges in Southeast Asia have been largely contained. None of the main conflict groups in this part of the world enjoys any significant degree of external backing, and none has the capacity to substantially escalate its activities on its own. The most threatening situation exists in southern...

  9. CHAPTER THREE The Role of the U.S. Army in Southeast Asia: Near Term
    (pp. 7-16)

    Furthering the process of bilateral and multilateral security cooperation will be important to U.S. foreign policy objectives for several reasons. First, it will help to build effective and self-sufficient partner-nation defense capacities. Second, it will assist with the promotion of mutually beneficial, long-term U.S.-ASEAN relationships to avail regional access in times of crisis. Third, it will better equip Southeast Asian states to independently offset, or at least balance, outside influence.

    To this end, there are four major roles that the Pentagon could conceivably play in shaping the Southeast Asian security environment over the near term: supporting defense reform and restructuring,...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR The Role of the U.S. Army in Southeast Asia to 2020
    (pp. 17-22)

    Forecasting what the geostrategic situation in Southeast Asia is likely to look like in 2020 is a demanding task that is fraught with risk. However, in an attempt to bound the analysis, this report postulates three conceivable futures for the region: a continuation of the status quo that is a straight-line projection of current political, economic, and military trends; one that is characterized by a significant drop in regional stability that leads China to exhibit a substantially more aggressive pursuit of its goals; and, at the extreme, a chronic systemic breakdown.

    Under the first scenario, the overall thrust of U.S....

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Conclusions
    (pp. 23-24)

    As the United States reorients its foreign and security policy toward Asia, there are numerous viable roles for the Army to fulfill within the ASEAN geopolitical space. With the exception of counterterrorism, these missions presently take the form of nonkinetic operations, reflecting the largely stable and benign nature of the region’s strategic environment. The one conceivable flashpoint, competing claims to islands in the SCS, currently does not carry a significant risk of major interstate conflict (although skirmishes are certainly possible) and, at least in the short term, will likely be addressed through diplomatic channels.

    Assuming a continuation of the status...

  12. References
    (pp. 25-28)