Remarks by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs
At CSIS-Georgetown-U.S. Studies Center Conference
The Rebalance: One Year Later
27 February 2013
Thanks to Mike Green, Bates Gill, and David Maxwell. Thanks also to CSIS and Georgetown who are serving as key intellectual engines of the rebalance.
I know that you have had some very productive panels this morning. What I want to provide a strategic overview of where we have been over the past year. To open few points right up front:
First, the rebalance is a whole of government approach. Defense and security undergird peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific, but Defense is only one part of the U.S. approach.
This perhaps best encapsulated by Sec. Clinton's article on the U.S. strategy in Asia where security is but one of six key prongs. We very much view our role at DOD as supporting the diplomatic, economic, development, and cultural pieces.
Second, the rebalance is not zero-sum game with Beijing or a contain China strategy. In fact, a strong bilateral relationship with China is an important part of the rebalance.
As you saw from Secretary Panetta's 2012 visit to China, the Defense Department is seeking additional ways to work with China on a range of mutual interests on the military to military front--- inviting them to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, facilitating operational level talks, and increasing senior level engagement, including visits by the Secretary of Defense, the PACOM Commander, the Secretary of the Navy, and reciprocal trips by Chinese counterparts. We continue to have a constructive and frank dialogue with the Chinese military and view that engagement as an important part of the strategy.
Third, the rebalance is an evolving, living strategy. The Defense Department is constantly working with and listening to allies and partners in the region to make sure the strategy, and our actions supporting it, are properly tailored and as effective as possible, providing enough security to be reassuring, but working hard to carefully manage regional perceptions to ensure that the rebalance is not seen as military-first strategy.
I want to emphasize that that the President has made a strategic choice for a long-term, strategic commitment to the region. It will weather crises, budgets and political transitions at key cabinet
With that, let me turn to a discussion of the core elements of the rebalance.
At the Shangri-La dialogue, Secretary Panetta outlined a conceptual framework for the Defense component of the rebalance.
He described four pillars of the rebalance: partnerships, presence, power projection, and principles.
So, since this is a speech on the rebalance a year later, what I thought I would do here today is to attempt to place a number of the notable accomplishments within the framework that Secretary
Panetta outlined at Shangri-La.
Turning to Secretary Panetta's speech, the first pillar I want to discuss is Partnerships. Working with our key partners and allies is one of the most important things we do each and every day at DOD. Of course our traditional allies including Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea remain paramount in this strategy, and I will come to these in the next section, but I wanted to open with some of the more under-reported initiatives that can sometimes be overlooked.
To that end, we are revitalizing and maturing our partnerships throughout the region- updating them to the meet the security challenges of the 21st century.
Here are a few examples:
Statement -the first revision in 50 years. The previous vision talked about keeping Thailand independent and fighting communism. It is safe to say we accomplished both of those tasks. The new vision directs the relationship in important areas such as improving readiness and interoperability and enhancing regional security in SE Asia and beyond,
Let me turn to the second pillar: Forward Presence.
It goes without saying that forward presence goes hand in glove with building partnerships. In many respects these two pillars are on a continuum.
Accordingly a critical part of the rebalance is working with allies and friends to build a posture that is politically sustainable, geographically distributed and operationally resilient.
We are in the process of modernizing and enhancing our forward presence with our critical allies
in Northeast Asia.
While we are updating and modernizing our alliances in Northeast Asia, we are also exploring innovative rotational presence options elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia and Australia.
I would break down the power projection pillar into three sub-categories
Principles. Power Projection, Presence, and Partnerships are all driven by the final pillar: U.S. commitment to core principles and values.
Implementation. Before concluding, let me briefly address what we are doing to implement the rebalance and some of the challenges ahead:
And, in terms of what challenges we confront as we continue to rebalance. I'll be brief as a wrap
up here - we can get into these in the Q&A:
I'll stop here in the interests of time and wrap up.
Conclusion. To conclude, let me pose the question: so what is the rebalance all about? My answer is as follows: the rebalance is about maintaining a system- a system that the U.S., working with friends, partners, and allies, allowed peace and prosperity to flourish over the last several decades.
This brought millions, if not billions, out of poverty, and led to unprecedented economic and cultural growth. And, we want this to continue: we want it to continue because it is good for our friends and allies in the region, but also because, selfishly, it is in our interests. The U.S. is a
Pacific power and our fortunes are inextricably linked to the Pacific.
That is precisely why the United States has been deeply engaged in the pacific for decades - Republican and Democratic Presidents, times of surplus and debt, partisan gridlock and comity, war and peace- and, it is precisely why that I know we will continue to be there for decades to come.
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