Soft-Power Counter to China
By Lieutenant Commander Randy S. Bell, MC, U.S. Navy
As the operational tempo in Central Command decreases in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military strategic focus is of necessity shifting to account for the emergence of new world superpowers. The Pacific Command (PACOM) commander, as a component of the National Defense Strategy, has therefore included the following in the list of focus areas: strengthen and advance alliances and partnerships, mature the U.S-China military-to-military relationship, and counter transnational threats. With these in mind, how can the United States maintain and increase its influence in the region such that its posture is not interpreted as threatening to China, but at the same time effectively and subtly counters Chinese influence? The answer is to increase its “soft power” assets, specifically medical and humanitarian capabilities in the region. This can be accomplished by enhancing and enlarging shore-bound medical facilities in Guam and Okinawa while transferring the USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) to a homeport in the western Pacific.