The Pentagon has made it clear that the United States’ new defense strategy or rebalancing of forces in Asia-Pacific is “not intended to contain China.”Just back from his first major trip to Southeast Asia, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said he laid out the context and rationale there for the Defense Department’s rebalance to a region that is of strategic consequence to the world.
The department’s aim in the Asia-Pacific, specified in the new defense strategy as a region critical for the future, is “to be … partnered with nations and have a rotational presence that allow us to build up common capabilities for common interests in the region because we think that will be stabilizing,” Dempsey said at a Pentagon press briefing on Thursday.
Neither the strategy nor the rebalancing is intended to contain China, he told reporters.
China expedited modernization of its military in the 1990s, which consequently brought it among the world’s biggest military spenders with an estimated $78 billion defense budget in 2010, second only to the United States’ military expenditure of just over $700 billion.
United States has a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific, with some of its allies such as South Korea and Japan hosting U.S. defense bases. Whenever there were provocations from China in the South China Sea or from North Korea on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. stood by the side of its allies in the region to protect their interests.
The strategic challenges of the future — whether those are economic, demographic, or military — are migrating to the Pacific, according to Dempsey.
“By virtue of the size, the scope, the scale of populations and economies, that is the region of the world where we all ought to be engaged,” he added. “And we all ought to be engaged with the intent of avoiding confrontation….That’s the message me and Panetta carried into the Pacific,” Dempsey said.
Repositioning forces is not the essence of the department’s rebalancing. Rather, he said, it involves “more attention, more engagement and more quality.”
The department’s aim in the Asia-Pacific, specified in the new defense strategy as a region critical for the future, is “to be … partnered with nations and have a rotational presence that allow us to build up common capabilities for common interests in the region because we think that’ll be stabilizing,” the Chairman added.
“We’ll strengthen our traditional relationships and develop new partnerships by expanding both the scope and scale of our interactions throughout the region…. with multilateral exercises, force posture and rotational deployments and continued personnel exchanges and dialogue with our counterparts,” Dempsey said.
He said that “as the rebalance evolves, we’ll make available our most advanced ships, our fifth-generation aircraft and the very best of our missile defense technology as we work with our partners.”
Dempsey said he had positive visits with counterparts in Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand.
Along with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, the Chairman participated in the Shangri-La Dialogue, a conference that brought together key defense officials from ten Asia-Pacific nations.
Source: RTT News