U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter wrapped up a 10-day tour of Asia with a visit with top military and diplomatic officials in South Korea last week. In a Defense Department briefing, he said military transition in Afghanistan and the end of conflict in Iraq meant the U.S. military was "at a strategic inflection point in national defense."
A general state of peace in the Asia-Pacific region for the last 60 years, he said, has allowed Japan, Indian and China rise to power. Continued focus on the region, therefore, is "one of the most prominent and important" issues for the Department of Defense.
With no multilateral alliance like NATO in the region, said Ashton, continuity of mission in the Asia-Pacific was needed given the historic presence of the U.S. military.
"It's good for us, and it's good for everyone in the region," he said.
U.S. defense officials last year expressed concern about the "pace and scope" of Chinese military investments.