Austin says will review US force presence in Mideast

Washington [US]Jan. 20 (ANI / Sputnik): President-elect Joe Biden’s candidate for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during his Senate confirmation hearing that he would review the U.S. Forces presence in the Middle East to address challenges from Russia and Tackle China.

“If this is confirmed, I will review our armed forces presence to ensure that it is adequately balanced to meet the multiple challenges in the Middle East, including China and Russia, with the global demands and health of the joint armed forces” Austin said in a written statement to the US Senate.

Austin said he will also review the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw significant numbers of U.S. troops from Germany as part of the Biden administration’s in-depth review of the U.S. military posture around the world.

In addition, Austin said he supported the legal requirement to provide lethal aid to Ukraine.

Austin mentioned that the United States may be working with Russia in the Arctic, but expressed concern about military build-up in the region.

The Senate Armed Forces Committee also pushed Austin for cybersecurity, including the recent cyberattack on IT company SolarWinds. Austin said Russia should be held accountable if this is found to be the culprit for the recent internet intrusion.

Some experts immediately blamed Russia, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed claims that Russia was behind the cyberattack.

In addition, Austin said it will promote the accelerated development of hypersonic missile interception capabilities.

Austin also said that extending the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia was in the United States’ national security interest.

Regarding China, Austin said the United States had a competitive advantage, but the gap had closed significantly, adding that the United States’ goal should be to widen that gap in the future. (ANI / Sputnik)

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