Jets roar as US, Japan, Australia drill in Pacific

Pacific

US Marines have already begun rotational deployments to Darwin, in northern Australia, and about 9,000 Marines stationed on the southern Japan island of Okinawa are to be moved to this tiny island, Hawaii and other locations.

The changes reflect a deepening strategic concern over the rise of China as a regional military power with the potential to challenge Washington's ability to intervene in a crisis, particularly around Taiwan or islands in the south and east

China seas that are contested by China and US allies such as the Philippines and Japan.

But the emphasis on alliance-building through exercises like Cope North also underscores fears in the Pentagon that major budget cuts looming in Congress could make it difficult for Washington to shoulder the whole burden of keeping China in check.

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Herbert Carlisle said he believes the budget cuts now being considered could threaten America's role as a superpower. He noted that China's military, and especially its navy, have been undergoing a "massive buildup" and are becoming a more credible challenge to their US counterparts

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