The National Guard is considering a sizeable expansion in its operations in the Indo-Pacific to counter China, Defense One reported, quoting the service’s top general.
The National Guard has over 90 training programs with countries around the world, and more programs are set to be added. Under the programs, between five and 50 guardsmen deploy to the partner nation, and vice-versa.
Gen. Dan Hokanson, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Defense One that of the countries being considered for the next program, about half are in the Indo-Pacific. “As you know, it’s a very important theater right now,” Hokanson said.
The National Guard currently has training programs in 15 countries in the region, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and Tonga.
The Biden administration recently released its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which called for an increase in the US military and diplomatic presence in the region as part of its strategy to counter China.
The Pentagon released its new National Defense Strategy this year, which identified China as the top “threat” facing the US military, second to Russia. The previous NDS, released in 2018, outlined the military’s shift away from counterterrorism toward so-called “great power competition” with Russia and China.
In 2020, Hokanson said the National Guard was reorganizing its brigades to reflect the 2018 NDS and prepare for future conflicts with Russia and China.