Friday, March 1, 2013

Remarks by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Mark Lippert At CSIS-Georgetown-U.S. Studies Center Conference The Rebalance: One Year Later

Remarks by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs
Mark Lippert
At CSIS-Georgetown-U.S. Studies Center Conference
The Rebalance: One Year Later
27 February 2013
[as prepared]

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:

  • We worked with our treaty ally Thailand to update the U.S.-Thailand Joint Vision
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,

  • Building on the good work of the Clinton and Bush Administrations, we are working with our friends in India to deepen our Defense cooperation and trade relationship through the path-breaking Carter-Menon initiative.

  • The Washington Declaration and subsequent policy changes concerning New Zealand ship visits to U.S. military ports and military staff talks have opened up exciting new avenues of defense cooperation with Wellington- that we have not seen for 25 years.

  • In Burma, we resumed limited military to military relations. Working with Thailand, we invited Burmese military observers to the COBRA GOLD exercise, and we are in an important dialogue with Naypyidaw to ensure the armed forces' commitment to human rights and democracy.

  • In Malaysia we have broadened our engagement as seen with the first-ever visit by a U.S. aircraft carrier to the South China Sea port of Kota Kinabalu.

  • Concerning ASEAN, we have seen unprecedented amounts of senior level engagement with ASEN and the ADMM+. At the working level, we also announced that we will be sending a full time DOD employee to the US Mission to ASEAN to support our growing cooperation in this body. And, on the operational side, we will be deeply engaged Experts Working Group of the ADMM+ with Indonesia on Counter-terrorism-- building towards the first exercise later this year.

  • And, we continue to have real innovation through trilaterals-- a mechanism to emphasize our regional approach to the Asia-Pacific. This includes successful ROK-Japan; AUS-Japan, India-Japan trilateral meetings.

  • Further engagement with the Indonesian military, and a new MOU with Vietnam on the defense relationship are other examples, and I could go further, but in the interest of time I will turn to the next pillar.

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.

  • In Japan, we have seen strong momentum on the defense side over the last year- starting with Defense Minister Morimoto and continuing to forward with the new government, highlighted by the very successful visit by PM Abe last week.

  • We are making steady progress on the Marine relocation; we made a key announcement of a second TPY -2 radar; we upgraded USMC aviation capabilities via the MV-22 deployment. And, I would be remiss if did not add the agreement on guidelines review and a re-energized Roles, Missions and Capabilities discussion.

  • In Korea, we are on track to implement Strategic Alliance 2015 and continuing to build Alliance capability, especially C41SR, in support of OPCON transition. The major posture move to bring the vast majority of US forces south of the Han River has made significant progress and proceeds on schedule. On the policy side, we have also engaged in an innovative discussion on extended deterrence, and we continue our work on "Global Korea." And, in the coming months, we are looking forward to working closely with President Park to further deepen and strengthen the alliance.

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.

  • Concerning Australia, 2012 saw the first company-sized rotation-- as a step towards a rotational presence of up to a full Marine Corps MAGTF in Darwin, and progress toward implementation of the initiatives announced by the President and Prime Minister.

  • An example is the August 2012 US Air Force participation in Exercise PITCH BLACK with Royal Australian Air Force.

  • At the Australia-U.S. Ministerial last year we advanced cooperation on new frontiers: the relocation of a C-Band radar, the advanced Space Situational Awareness Telescope, and deepening our military satellite communications partnership in Western Australia.

  • We are in a full and equal partnership with Manila that is driving, over the long term, to enhance the capabilities of the Philippine Armed Forces, especially in the maritime domain. And, as part of that effort we are jointly examining new presence options that will serve our collective interests.

  • In Singapore, the first Littoral Combat Ship rotation is slated to begin in April-providing a key capability to work bi- and multilaterally with partners in the region.

  • These are just a few examples, and I should point out that this forward presence, along with our partnerships, help facilitate the third pillar: Power Projection.

I would break down the power projection pillar into three sub-categories

  • First, the rebalance means that a higher proportion of assets will be in the Pacific. This means 60% of our Navy fleet home-ported in the Pacific by 2020. An increase in Air Force (PACAF) tail numbers by 2017. More capacity from the ground forces: Army, USMC, as well as SOF --now that we are out of Iraq and drawing down in Afghanistan.

  • Second, after a decade of rightly investing in counter-insurgency capabilities, the Pentagon has begun to shift our major investments into platforms and capabilities with direct applicability in the Asia-Pacific and is working to prioritize PACOM in receiving these capabilities. These include: Virginia class submarines; 5th Generation Fighters; P-8 aircraft; cruise missiles; ISR.

  • Third, we are updating and improving our intellectual capacity that ties all of this together. Developing the Air Sea Battle concept; revitalizing our amphibious doctrine; updating plans; enhancing the role of our educational centers.

Principles. Power Projection, Presence, and Partnerships are all driven by the final pillar: U.S. commitment to core principles and values.

  • U.S. activities throughout the world-including in the Asia-Pacific-are based in key principles that we essential to building a secure, safe world where all can prosper: Free and open commerce, free access to the global commons, adherence to the rule of law, settling disputes by diplomatic means without coercion, supporting democracy, and protection of universal human rights.

  • At DOD, we use these principles to guide formulation and practical application of our policies, in a range of real world situations: from engagement with the Burmese military to maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

  • These core principles guide the decisions we make every day and connect our strategic rebalance to the values that are held dear here in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Implementation. Before concluding, let me briefly address what we are doing to implement the rebalance and some of the challenges ahead:

  • At DOD we are engaged in a number of steps at senior levels to ensure implementation of the rebalance.

  • Secretary Panetta established a biweekly video conference between the Secretary and the PACOM Commander to ensure direct, unfiltered communications with the Combatant Commander responsible for the Asia Pacific;

  • Deputy Secretary Carter manages a Deputy's Management Advisory Group-Asia Pacific process which brings all of the stakeholder Services, the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense together to discuss key issues confronting the implementation of the rebalance;

  • The Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Staff process ensures DOD is working in concert with the rest of the interagency- both in budgetary and policy terms to implement the rebalance;

  • Senior level travel to region. Secretary Panetta made three trips last year, Deputy Secretary Carter made one, and Carter is likely to go again this spring. As far as Secretary Hagel- well, given that it is his first day on the job we haven't had that discussion yet. But, I was talking to John Chipman of IISS who noted that then Senator Hagel led the Congressional Delegation piece of the very first Shangri-la dialogue to which he added that Secretary Hagel was an "early rebalancer."

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:

  • Managing tension and security threats in NE Asia
  • Sequester
  • Balancing resources between CENT COM and PACOM: as mentioned, I have both in my portfolio.
  • South China Sea and maritime disputes
  • Continuing to grow and mature a regional security architecture.
  • Terrorism, cyber attacks, space, proliferation
  • Unexpected natural disasters and disease

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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