The Air Force's move [to buy the longer range Airbus based tanker] follows along with Army and Navy-Marine Corps build-ups in the Pacific as well, all of which followed the 2005/2006 Quadrennial Defense Review under Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon administration. That QDR announced a strategic shift from Atlantic to Pacific oceans, especially eyeing China, North Korea and potential hotspots triggered by Islamic extremists in Indonesia or The Philippines, for instance.
Although limited in overall fleet size, the Navy is moving and centering the bulk of its existing and planned forces in the Pacific. From aircraft carriers to submarines and Littoral Combat Ships, U.S. warships will become far more familiar with Pacific climes than in Cold War years. Meanwhile, the Army and Marines are re-stationing personnel and prepositioned forces throughout the vast stretch, including a major base in Guam.
These far-flung forces must be supported by the so-called "air bridge" that the Air Force provides[.]