I object to overseas basing for two reasons. Not only is it expensive, but troops on foreign sovereign territory undermine American soft power. I guess there’s no surprises in RAND‘s “Overseas Basing of U.S. Military Forces: An Assessment of Relative Costs and Strategic Benefits”. It’s a bit of a muddle.
The report concludes that there are certain minimum requirements necessary to carry out the current national security strategy, but it is prudent, based upon the net value produced, to maintain an overseas posture that goes beyond these minimums. Additionally, it combines benefit, cost, and risk considerations to distill a number of strategic judgments that have implications for the advisability of considering identified posture changes.
For East Asia, the key findings are mixed.
1. The emerging threat from long-range precision-guided weapons needs to be part of the calculus when adjusting posture in the Asia-Pacific region in the pursuit of deterrence and assurance goals.
2. In Asia, another key consideration is the value of having ground forces stationed in the region versus in the United States for flexible contingency response, assurance, and security cooperation with partners across the region.
I think this misses the point whether the United States is a firefighter responding to incidents in every country or if there are broader strategic priorities, like maintaining trade or upholding international law.