Monday, November 11, 2013
Going Back In Time: The Philippines Revisited
Thank you for letting us back into your country. It's no great favor, but now that China's bullying of the Philippines Government, it is now easy for the United States to get back to the PHL with open arms. Business as usual and let bygones be bygones and let's act like nothing has happen for the pass twenty years, as the PHL would love to have it.
But is it really going to be that way? The United States have long term memories, and they don't just forgive and forget that easily. After the US left the PHL, everything died! The hardcore left wingers drives their country into the toilet and steal everything that is was not tied down. All in the name of PHL sovereignty and their rights. The US even closed their Veterans Hospital there.
So now that another disaster has just pushed the country over the cliff and it shows that there is not enough resources to support its citizen from these natural disasters, it has the ships, planes, and resources of its "new" found friend "The United States Government" to step right in and help with their problems. But again, in a couple of years, it will be the same of song, and they will want the US out of their country again.
That's why we were the first ones there with foreign aid during the November 2013 disaster that disrupted the lives of over 10,000 citizens. The U S Navy immediately used its resources to fly people in and out of danger and to help deliver water and food. It is no secret that the Philippines Government is overwhelmed and don't have enough resources to go around.
It's like adopting a grown child and letting them move back into the house again, with the PHL being the child. In the early 1990's it was the call of the very hard left wing of the government that wanted the United States out of their country. It all went down hill very quickly a couple of weeks later when a volcano blew its top and covered the bases. The US had just got out of there is the nick of time. We gave very little help after that disaster, and we sit of the sidelines and mainly watched.
By James Hardy
A return to a familiar port of call serves as another reminder of the United States continued "rebalance" towards Asia.
U.S. and Philippine officials recently confirmed that Subic Bay – a natural harbor 80 km north of Manila that was the US 7th Fleet’s home until 1992 – is going to be playing a much larger role in U.S. Pacific Fleet deployments from now on.
The former U.S. naval port and its air station, now known as Subic Bay Freeport Zone, is set to host U.S. ships, marines and aircraft on a semi-permanent basis. To compare it to a relationship: the U.S. isn’t moving back in, but it’s going to be leaving a few things at the apartment. And it’s a bit more than just a toothbrush.
"There are very few ports that can accommodate naval assets and naval carriers, and one of them is Subic,” said Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Visiting Forces Agreement Director Edilberto Adan, who was speaking to reporters aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Bonhomme Richard was just one U.S. ship that was at Subic Freeport in preparation for PHIBLEX 2013 – a 10-day annual amphibious exercise involving U.S. and Philippine Marines that began its 29th iteration earlier this month.
Adan explicitly linked Subic to the U.S. military’s much-heralded shift of emphasis to the Pacific theatre. "As the U.S. begins to implement [the rebalance], Subic will play an important role because it is one of the important facilities that can service its presence in the Pacific," he said.
In some ways, the increase in troop and platform rotations is similar to the deal that the U.S. and Australia unveiled in November 2011 that will eventually see 2,500 U.S. Marines train in Darwin. Unlike that arrangement, however, Subic will be hosting a lot of U.S. hardware and will also act as a support and servicing facility for the U.S. Navy. AMSEC, a subsidiary of U.S. shipbuilder Huntingdon Ingalls Industries announced in April that it would set up a maintenance, repair, and logistics hub at Subic using facilities owned by Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction (HHIC).
At the time, AMSEC's Mark Balmert told IHS Jane's Defence Weekly that "Subic Bay was attractive to the navy in past years because of location and costs, and we are hopeful that it will be in the future as well."
This announcement, like any strategic change, prompts a number of questions on its true significance.
It’s possible to see the decision as a natural development of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that Manila signed with the United States in 1999. That agreement, which was not without its opponents in the Philippines and came only seven years after Subic had closed down as a U.S. base, was first invoked in 2002 when U.S. special forces arrived in support of Operation 'Enduring Freedom', working alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other Islamist groups in the south of the country.
Pivot to the Pacific: China’s Growing Military Capabilities
Capabilities and Intent
In my previous post we looked at the geostrategic realities undergirding the United States – and the U.S. Navy’s – Pivot to the Pacific. In this post we’ll discuss some of China’s military capabilities. Capabilities is the operative word here. While is often times difficult to divine a nation’s intent, for the most part, their capabilities are well known. And given that China's economy will overtake that of the United States in the 2020s, and that China’s military buildup is undergirded by this economic growth, virtually all analysts agree that China’s military growth will continue on the double-digit upward path it is currently experiencing.
The U.S. Pivot to the Pacific is designed to reassure allies and partners, not to threaten China. Naval War College Professor James Holmes put it this way in The Diplomat:
It's not because a U.S.-China war is fated, but because of expediency. Military planners are negligent if they don't plan against the toughest challenge elected leaders may order them to face. For instance, the U.S. Navy planned for war with Britain's Royal Navy well into the interwar years. No one wanted or expected an Anglo-American conflict, but the Royal Navy remained the gold standard for naval power. It only made sense for the U.S. Navy to measure itself against the most exacting standard available while hedging against the unexpected.
Some would downplay China’s military capabilities, as Andrew Erickson and Adam Liff do somewhat in their article, “A Player, But No Superpower,” in the March 7, 2013 issue of ForeignPolicy.com where they note, “Even with this surging investment, there are several major obstacles to China’s developing military potent far beyond the Near Seas.” But the point is this: the United States has allies, partners and substantial equities inside the Near Seas. The Near Seas cannot become a Chinese moat. But are China’s military capabilities really substantial enough to potentially foreclose U.S. options in the Asia-Pacific?
The Growth – and Capabilities – of China’s Military
While some question China’s strategic intent and downplay China’s increasingly bellicose statements – especially toward the United States – regarding its maritime interests, a September 2011 Center for Naval Analysis study, Uncertain Waters: Thinking About China’s Emergence as a Maritime Power summarized the rationale for China’s moves. It noted, in part:
China continues to have vital interests that touch on questions of sovereignty and territorial integrity in maritime areas near the mainland. Until these issues are resolved, a key component of how Chinese policy-makers think about maritime power is their need to develop the means necessary to prevent de jure independence for Taiwan, prevent an attack on the Chinese mainland from the sea, and defend China’s territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims. The United States is perceived as the single most important potential security threat and the one actor that could prevent China from attaining its goals with regard to Taiwan and other disputes in regional seas.
As widely reported in the international media, and as analyzed by institutions as diverse as the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and IHS Global Insight, China has dramatically increased its military spending. Indeed, in the IISS annual publication, The Military Balance, which reported that Asia was set to spend more on defense than Europe for the first time in modern history, what was lost to many in the report was the fact that China alone accounts for 30 percent of Asian defense and that China’s official military expenditure in 2011 was more than two-and-a-half times the 2001 level, growing by an average of approximately 11 percent per year in real terms over the period, even faster than the economy as a whole. Further, IHS Global Insight predicts that China’s defense budget will double over the next five years, reaching over $238B in 2015, and outstripping the combined spending of all other nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Much of the contention between the United States and China has been focused, of late, on the South China Sea. China’s continuing conflict with its neighbors in this geographically-strategic and resource-rich oceanic zone has been well-documented in the international media and due to is alliances with several of these nations; the United States has important equities in the South China Sea. In January 2012, a Center for a New American Security report, Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China, and the South China Sea, highlighted the complex issues that have led up to the current situation. It noted the important American interests at stake in this body of water, and recommended a number of actions to secure American interests. Of note, the report was replete with references to China’s strategic intent as well as its substantial A2/AD capabilities, noting, in part:
The South China Sea is where a militarily rising China is increasingly challenging American naval preeminence – a trend that, if left on its present trajectory, could upset the balance of power that has existed since the end of World War II and threaten these sea lines of communications (SLOCs)…China continues to challenge this openness by developing military capabilities that allow it to threaten access to this maritime region…American military dominance in the South China Sea will recede in relative terms as other nations, principally China, improve their naval and air forces to better integrate ballistic missiles…If China can tip the balance of power in its favor, it can increasingly dominate its smaller neighbors while incrementally nudging the U.S. Navy further and further out behind the Western Pacific’s first island chain.
China has been increasingly strident regarding its claims to its near-shore waters; primarily as a buffer against what it states are moves by the United States to “encircle” it. As Michael Richardson explained in the Japan Times:
China evidently aims to dominate its “near seas” – the Yellow, East and South China seas – turning them into an extended security buffer protecting the Chinese mainland and enabling China to exploit valuable fisheries and seabed resources, including oil, gas and minerals. The three seas contain the vast majority of China’s outstanding territorial claims against its neighbors, as well as its disputed maritime claims. Beijing’s claims in the 3.5 mission square km of South China Sea are by far the most extensive. Beijing asserts sovereignty over the main contested archipelagos and their surrounding waters and seabed. It asserts other forms of jurisdiction in its claimed zone of control, which covers about 80 percent of the sea.
One notable effort in China’s military buildup is the development of the world’s first anti-ship “carrier killer” ballistic missile, the DF-21D. Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia Program at the Center for a New American Security, wrote that “the missile can be fired from protected land-based bastions far away, travels at high speed, and provides mid-course correction and a maneuverable reentry vehicle with great precision and lethality…The DF-21D is the ultimate carrier-killer missile.” I will devote space in a future post specifically to this important new military development.
The overarching level of concern regarding China’s capabilities is now a constant drumbeat in the mainstream media. A New York Times editorial captured the level of concern regarding China’s emerging capabilities:
Beijing's drive to extend its military and territorial reach is making America's close allies in the region nervous and raising legitimate questions about American diplomacy and future military procurement. The commander of America's Pacific forces recently revealed that China could soon deploy a ballistic missile capable of threatening American aircraft carriers in the region. The Pentagon has a long history of hyping the Chinese threat to justify expensive weapons purchases, and sinking well-defended ships with ballistic missiles is notoriously hard. But what should rightly concern American military planners is not so much the missile but the new Chinese naval strategy behind it. China seems increasingly intent on challenging United States naval supremacy in the Western Pacific. At the same time it is aggressively pressing its claims to disputed offshore islands in the East and South China Seas. Washington must respond, carefully but firmly. The Pentagon must accelerate efforts to make American naval forces in Asia less vulnerable to Chinese missile threats by giving them the means to project their deterrent power from further offshore.
While some (perhaps most notably Dr. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago) express genuine concerns that China cannot rise peacefully, many others downplay the threat posed by China and weapons such as the DF-21D missile, saying that state-on-state conflict with China is not likely––a result of the so-called “Walmart Factor” that intertwines the two economies. However, what some observers miss is the fact that China need only make the cost of the United States intervening in western Pacific affairs—to counter Chinese threats against Taiwan or China’s bullying of its smaller neighbors in disputes over the South China Sea—too high that U.S. intervention is no longer a reasonable deterrent option.
And increasingly, many observers recognize that China’s approach to protecting its interests and challenging the United States where it supports its core strategic interests demands a naval response, a response that is being operationalized by China’s substantial naval building program, with some suggesting China has embraced Mahan far more than the United States has.
While volumes have been on the U.S.-China relationship and many have used the “Walmart Factor” to question a shift in U.S. policy to an Asia-Pacific focus and the concomitant emphasis on investing in A2/AD capabilities such as ballistic missile defense to counter weapons such as the DF-21D, the Congressional Research Service’s Ron O’Rourke summed up the efficacy of this approach in a January 2012 article in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings:
A U.S.-China conflict may be unlikely because of the economic ties between the two countries and the tremendous damage such a conflict would cause. But that doesn’t mean the U.S.-Chinese military balance in the Pacific isn’t important. For one thing, showing that the United States is prepared to win such a conflict is a part of what makes it unlikely.
Equally important is that other countries in the region are constantly observing that military balance and factoring it into their decisions regarding whether to align their policies more closely with the United States or with China. The day-to-day U.S.-Chinese military balance in the Pacific, in other words, will help shape the political evolution of the Pacific basin, which in turn will affect the ability of the United States to purse various policy goals, both in the Pacific and elsewhere.
The widely reported United States “Pivot to Asia” has, perhaps understandably, increased the bellicosity of China’s rhetoric against the United States and raised genuine concerns that the predictions of Mearsheimer, as well as others, who see conflict with China on the horizon may come to pass. Indeed, as Admiral Robert Willard, former Commander Pacific Command, expressed it in his February 2012 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee:
The President has directed his national security team to make America’s “presence a mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority.”…major security challenges confront the U.S. across this region, including China’s military modernization – in particular its active development of capabilities in cyber and space domains – and the questions these emerging military capabilities raise among China’s neighbors about its current and long term intentions…China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities extend well into the SCS. China asserts these military developments are purely defensive in nature and pose no threat to neighbors I the region. Yet, combined with broad maritime and sovereignty claims and incidents with lawful operators in the SCS and ECS, there is ongoing international concern regarding China’s activities in the South China Sea.
The Navy’s Pivot to the Pacific
Against this backdrop of the geopolitical and military factors driving the United States Pivot to the Pacific, the U.S. Navy’s Pivot to Asia, as articulated by Admiral Greenert in his Foreign Policy article, “Sea Change: The Navy Pivots to Asia,” present a compelling case to stay the course laid out by the CNO.
To recap, Admiral Greenert notes, “the Navy will build on its longstanding Asia-Pacific focus in four ways:”
- Deploying more forces to the Asia-Pacific
- Basing more ships and aircraft in the region
- Fielding new capabilities focused on Asia-Pacific challenges
- Developing partnerships and intellectual capital across the region
When we listen to the CNO at Sea-Air-Space, and when you hear the detailed discussion from Vice Admiral Mark Fox, Deputy CNO for Ops/Plans (N3/N5), -- during our “Pivot to Asia” Navy League panel on Tuesday, 9 April -- you will understand much better these important issues and themes. As Admiral Greenert’s article makes clear, the Navy’s shift of forces to the Asia-Pacific theater is well underway and will accelerate over the next decade-plus. This will enable the Navy to provide robust and sustained presence in the world’s most vibrant economic area while also providing the Navy with the capability and the capacity to deal with crises in the region.
Pivot to the Pacific: China’s Growing Military Capabilities
Asia-Pacific Rebalance: Defending the Shared domains
Presenters: Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
Canadian Defense Association - 21 February 2013
Good Morning …Bonjour… or as we say in Hawaii…ALOHA. Actually I was supposed to be in another area of my responsibility today – I was supposed to be at the South Pole. I was going to go down there and experience that, but I got an email from Charlie that said I’d like for you to speak to this august group. And he said that he would guarantee that it would be beneficial to me, and that the weather would be better than it was at the South Pole…Charlie you lied about that…Thank you for inviting me to join such a distinguished group of security professionals.
I want to thank Ray Henault for his leadership here at CDA and thank you for your continued robust promotion of this kind of dialogue. I think these dialogues are extremely important as we enter this century and we take a look at the security environment we are in. I also want to thank Charlie (Bouchand). We could spend all day talking about Charlie and my experiences here. Charlie is not only a great warrior but also a great friend. So thank you.
The support I’ve gotten from Walt Natynczyk, for your time and now Tom Lawson as I’ve done my tours around the world and seen the great influence that Canadian joint forces have on our ability as a force multiplier across the many, many areas of security. I can’t really say how impressed I’ve been…and if I ever have to go into another conflict, I’m sure that I’ll have a Canadian under each arm, or they’ve got me under their arms.
What I want to talk about today, we could spend a lot of time talking about NATO and Libya and those things, but what I really think I want to talk about is the area that I am now associated with. I’ve been here for about a year, and it really has to do with the other half of the world – the Indo Asia Pacific.
The influence I think these groups need to start thinking about how our security environments are going to be impacted by this vast region.
Now I hesitate to call it a “region” because that tends to over-simplify and really under-represent not only the size, but the complexity, and really the diversity of opportunities that are in this part of the world. But it also under-represents the significant security challenges that we all face today or that we see today and will see in the future.
The Indo-Asia-Pacific area stretches from California to India…Hollywood to Bollywood some have said… It encompasses over half the earth’s surface and about 60% of the world’s population. Today that’s about 7 billion people with about 4 billion in the Indo Asia Pacific and by late in the century, when we get to the point where the world population tops out at about 9-10 billion, about 7 billion of those people are expected to live in the Indo Asia Pacific.
If you took the Pacific alone and looked at a world map today, it’s a Mercator projection, a flat projection of the world its how most people view the world. It really distorts the world really. When you look at it, the largest single thing on this earth is the Pacific Ocean. If you took every land mass in the world and you just jammed them all together, you could put the entire land mass in the Pacific Ocean and still have room for another African and North American continent.
Sometimes we have the tendency to say “Atlantic” or “Pacific” but that gives you an idea of the vastness of the region.
It is incredibly culturally, socially, economically, and geo-politically diverse.
The many nations who associate themselves here include five of the U.S.’s seven allies, the three largest economies in the world, and seven of the ten smallest economies.
The most populated nations in the world are here. It is also home to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd largest democracies; and the world’s smallest republic.
Asia…as we all know… is the engine that drives the global economy…. the economic center of gravity and becoming more so every minute.
Nine of the world’s ten largest ports are in the Indo Asia Pacific. The sea lanes here are the busiest in the world, 70% of all the energy that flows in the world flows through the Indo Asia Pacific.
I think more flows through the South China Sea every day than through the Strait of Hormuz.
Most of the world’s container cargo either ends up there or originates there.
By any meaningful measure, the Indo Asia Pacific is also the most militarized area in the world as well. Seven of the world’s ten largest armies are here, the world’s largest and most sophisticated navies are here, and five of the world’s declared nuclear powers are in the Indo Asia Pacific.
Now all these things, if you string them all together, result in I think a unique strategic complexity that has some challenges. And this complexity is magnified by a fairly diverse group of challenges that I think we’ll see continue to significantly stress the environment….They include things such as:
Let me start with climate change – where increasingly severe weather patterns and rising sea levels are already threatening people in this region and could even threaten the loss of entire nations.
Little known fact, 80% of all the people in the world live within 200 miles of the coast and they are moving more towards the coasts in all these large nations as they seek opportunities that coastal regions provide.
We’re already seeing in Oceania where nations are already considering where they are going to move to, to another nation, because within this century, it is likely their nations will be underwater or at least inundated by storms because of rising sea levels.
This will put increased pressure on sustainable systems that provide things like fresh water and dependable food supplies.
Most large cities in the Indo Asia Pacific today probably have two to three days of food supplies on hand, and if that disrupts cities of 10, 15, 20 million, you’ll see what that does to shape the security environment.
Of course there’s still susceptibility to things like earthquakes and tsunamis – I don’t know if they are getting more frequent, but they don’t seem to be going away.
There’s the transnational threats including pandemics, pirates, terrorists and criminal organizations all those continue to challenge us in the Indo Asia Pacific.
…and drugs and human trafficking, and of course the continued proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
I saw the other day where in slave trade alone, originating from the Indo Asia Pacific, it’s a 30 billion dollar industry each year. That’s more than Google, Nike and Starbuck’s [yearly profits] put together. So that’s slave trade…
Of course instability on the Korean Peninsula we’re seeing will continue to persist and we’ll have to deal with it . It’s no longer just a regional problem for those people in South East Asia or North East Asia. It’s now a global problem. It’s a problem for all of us.
And then the rise of China and India as global economic powers and their emergence as regional military powers is going to continue, it’s going to happen…and how they will integrate into the overall security environment is yet to be seen. For instance, will China be a productive –transparent – net contributor to regional and global security, that’s what we hope and what we are planning for…or will they choose a different path.
How the US sustains and rebalances its role as the primary security guarantor throughout the Indo Asia Pacific is yet to be seen but it will be key.
Historic and emerging border and territorial disputes are no doubt going to continue. If you look back at history of mankind almost all the wars we’ve had have been over territorial disputes of some kind.
So do we think those will go away tomorrow or will be magically resolved? Probably not. So we are going to have to deal with them.
Access and freedom of action in the shared domains of sea, space and cyberspace will be increasingly challenged.
Existing norms in the maritime domain today are being challenged with the emergence of new maritime powers…. who are using these powers and their new naval capabilities to enforce these long-standing dormant claims over disputed lands and waters. And as they seek to ensure that they have access to what might lay in the waters around them or might lay in the ground below them
So the openness of the maritime domain demands that freedom of navigation and restricted interpretations that could fundamentally undermine the global access, which is important to all of our peace and prosperity.
So meanwhile, in the space domain, we could spend all day on this, it’s in urgent need of strong protocols…as today’s freedom of access is increasingly threatened by anti-space weaponry and maybe more significantly by just bad housekeeping habits.
…habits resulting in the increased proliferation of damaging space debris…space junk…junk that will increasingly threaten that important domain that all of us are going to have to need as we improve our economies and the lives of our people.
You know about 50 percent of everything that’s trackable in orbit today was either created by explosions or by collisions inside the orbit. It’s not producing any goodness for mankind, it’s just junking up space and we’re going to have to deal with it.
When we’re talking about the Cyber domain, and of course it’s been widely reported about in the papers recently, but we’ve been talking about this for a long time. I think of cyber security in the context of the Wild West in the United States, and probably Canada in the 19th century – is where any security that you enjoyed is what you brought with you. I think that applies today in cyber.
I don’t have to remind this audience of the levels of unprecedented connectivity for your and our global financial transactions, social networks, commercial enterprises, and not to say the least, our militaries and our military operations…and they are all at risk by largely ungoverned and unprotected CYBER space.
Foundational concepts about the nature of warfare and military competition in cyber space- such as deterrence, response, and escalation- remain ambiguous and not well understood, and need to be talked about before we get a decision that you might not like.
Cyber space is the only shared common that is man-made. So we have the ability to control this…yet as we go forward it is potentially becoming the most threatened shared domain of all…. and many of the threats are emanating from the Indo Asia Pacific region.
One of our most significant challenges to this vast region is that there is no single organization, like NATO. It doesn’t exist in the Asia Pacific to help manage relationships and provide a framework for conflict resolution. It’s just not there, and quite frankly, I think it’s a long ways away because of the diversity of the region.
It can be a tough neighborhood with nationalistic tendencies that can spin up quickly and lead to a weak system of security environments.
What exists instead is a series of loosely interwoven security relationships that have been shaped by history, by a shared interest, and increasingly driven by our economic interconnectedness.
These relationships range from historic bilateral alliances, the U.S. and Canada, to mature and emerging multilateral forums.
All are focused on converging interests and security concerns, but with those same relationships often struggling to be effective when their member states’ interests diverge and it pulls them apart.
And as nations become more internally secure they will inevitably shifting military resources from internal to external security matters…as they seek to preserve their own access to the global, shared domains so that they ensure their prosperity. And then there are those who are increasing their military spending as they prosper and there are others who are decreasing – and all these dynamics are being seen in the Indo Asia Pacific.
The future structure of regional institutions – and whether they will produce a region characterized by conflict, or more or less competition, if there’s a shift in balance of power, or if there’s somehow a realization of the need to get a large collective security organization in place, that’s not clear to me.
But I think recognizing and dealing with the complex security environments in this part of the world and the rest of the world relies on the global system of mutually supported networks of commerce, communication, and governance, as well as the security apparatus to allow us to prosper…I believe is an imperative for all nations to have a dialogue about this and how they intend to influence it.
Now let’s face it…Canada and the United States are both Pacific nations who derive great benefit from open access to all the shared domains…domains that enable our access to our national interests that aren’t just within the confines of our territorial land masses…interest that will be increasingly affected by what happens in the Indo Asia Pacific…and we need to attend them to ensure our access and that our way of life is preserved.
For decades, the U.S. military has worked hard to preserve the stability and access to these shared domains.
This predictable security environment in the Indo Asia Pacific that I think has been underpinned by U.S. security presence allowed a period of pretty phenomenal economic development and allowed these emerging countries to integrate into the global economic community in ways that sometimes I don’t think we realize or take time to talk about.
But the strategic environment that we see approaching from the U.S. Pacific Command perspective is one where we need to ensure we preserve our access to the domains that are important to all of as we go forward in a globally and economically connected world.
So what the U.S. has done on this is after many years now of Middle East focused activities, our President last year, I think quite rightly through a strategic document indicated that we would conduct a rebalance to the Asia Pacific. That doesn’t mean we are going to walk away from the rest of the world. It means that after the last couple decades it’s a recognition of what the security environment is and the importance of the U.S. security interests. As we reshape our military after several decades of very difficult things that you all have been participating in, we have to add this calculation to what that military looks like.
The rebalance is not just about the military, it’s about national policy, it’s about diplomacy, it’s about trade as well as our security. I think the number one audience for the rebalance message by our President was our own people and getting them to recognize where our interests lie and where we have to put our investments in the future.
There has been significant speculation and skepticism about the rebalance. For instance…Is it achievable and can we sustain it? I don’t know – we’ll see. I hope we can, and I think the imperatives are up to us. And some question if it is merely a containment strategy in disguise. It is not. The rebalance is based on a strategy of collaboration, not containment…if it was containment of anyone, we know how to do that, and it would look different than this.
It focuses on three major elements:
Adjusting our military posture and presence…and…
Employing new concepts and capabilities to ensure we continue to effectively contribute to the Indo Asia Pacific patchwork security environment so that our national interests are protected and that the security environment can withstand the inevitable kind of shocks and waves that occur throughout.
The keystone of our rebalance will be to modernize and strengthen our five Pacific treaty alliances, and this work is in progress in earnest. Now some have opined that these alliances are really relics of World War II – Cold War security structure, and that they are ill-suited for the challenges of tomorrow’s security environment.
From the military commander’s perspective, I can tell you that these alliances bring with them years of mutual trust and respect, significant interoperability and information sharing, a common view of regional security landscapes and challenges, and they provide a very good base from which multilateral relationships are growing today.
…all of which will continue to underpin U.S. security objectives in this region.
We are also developing and expanding our bilateral partnerships with nations throughout the Indo Asia Pacific with whom we have shared security interests…
We will pursue a long-term relationship with India and we are going to support thier leadership role in the Indian Ocean and South Asia…
While modernizing and strengthening our bilateral relationships…we will also strengthen our commitment to multilateral forums such as ASEAN and the East Asia Summit.
We are going to pursue a lasting relationship with China, including our mil-to-mil relationship.
Our two countries have a strong stake in regional peace and stability and a keen interest in building a cooperative bilateral relationship. We are hoping to look past our differences and to focus our relationship on our converging interests rather than those where we diverge.
We converge in such areas as counter-piracy, counter-terrorism, protecting sea lines of communication, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response…just to name a few…and the list goes on.
We will continue to pursue a military relationship that is healthy, stable, resilient, and enduring, and look for opportunities to increase our cooperation and to encourage mutual understanding, trust and transparency…and at the same time avoiding miscalculation.
Persistent, forward presence of our people and their equipment in the Indo Asia Pacific enables our forces to work daily, side-by-side with our allies and our partners to quickly respond to current and future challenges…
Today there are about 350,000 U.S. military people serving in the Indo Asia Pacific and about 70,000 family members who are stationed overseas on foreign soil…all of whom continue to demonstrate U.S. commitment and resolve to our allies and partners, and I don’t see this changing.
As part of the rebalance, with the support of our allies and partners, we are also working towards a force posture that is more geographically distributed…if you take a look at where we we have been in Asia post World War II is primarily concentrated in North East Asia and we are moving throughout Asia to position our forces in places where it makes more sense to address the security issues I just talked about. In short that means that our forces will remain relevantly deployed for the 21st century…
The force must also be operationally resilient…in order to respond to crises whether it is a tsunami, an earthquake, a large humanitarian crisis or whether it is to a larger contingency, they have to be operationally relevant to be able to deal with that broad spectrum of threats they have trained to.
The third aspect of our posture is that it has to be politically sustainable. If it’s not politically sustainable we can’t stay here since it’s not our home territory.
And finally, we are going to put our most capable forces forward in the Indo Asia Pacific to ensure we effectively operate with our allies and partners across a wide range of operations like I just talked about. We are putting our very best forward in some of the most challenging areas.
Now let me make a few more comments about the Global Commons and shared domains…
These shared domains must be a major element of both Canadian and U.S. security engagement with our allies, partners, and others.
We have to ensure that the predominant number of existing and emerging powers persuade others to actively promote and participate in the openness and stability of the shared domains, whether it’s air, maritime, space or cyber. And the international political and economic order will be strengthened by this perspective.
Ensuring stable access to shared domains will require a concerted, long-term effort encompassing all elements of national power.
Nations such as ours must show a willingness to lead by helping others develop global institutions that advance our shared goals and ensure our shared access.
These actions will not only help secure the shared domains in the coming decades, but will also send clear deterrence and dissuasion messages to those whose intentions are unclear about these domains.
Our two nations not only share a border, but we share a similar common heritage and we share a common way of life.
And as I said before we are without question Pacific nations… and what happens in the Indo Asia Pacific in my opinion must matter to all of us.
So once again, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today and thanks for the great lunch and warm reception here, not so warm weather, but it’s nice to be here, and I look forward to answering some of your questions.
— USPACOM (posted February 22, 2013) —