WASHINGTON - The United States is shifting more military muscle, including another aircraft carrier, to the Pacific to protect the status quo in a region facing China's growing clout, the Pentagon's second-ranking official said on Thursday.
In coming years, 60 percent of US Navy ships will be in the Pacific, up from 52 percent now, including a net increase of one carrier to six, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told an industry conference hosted by Credit Suisse and McAleese and Associates, a consultancy.
The US Army and Marine Corps are also working on stepped-up rotations, "so they'll be seeing more of the US Army in the Asia Pacific region not less," Carter said.
Elaborating on military priorities that US President Barack Obama announced in January, Carter said US forces had played a crucial role in preventing conflict in the Pacific region for roughly the last 60 years.
"We don't want that to change. We want to continue to have that role and that's really what our investments are aimed at," Carter said when asked whether the goal was to pre-empt, deter or hedge against China.