Admiral: U.S. is, will remain Pacific power

Dec. 6, 2012 at 11:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The force rebalancing to the Pacific underscores the United States is and will remain a Pacific power but isn't aimed at any nation, a U.S. Navy official said.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon about moving ahead on the policy of rebalancing U.S. forces to the Pacific region, Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, assured the effort stresses cooperation and collaboration, not confrontation, the Defense Department reported on its website.

"The rebalance draws on the strengths of the entire U.S. government, including policy, diplomacy, trade and, of course, security," Locklear said.

He said the rebalance is not aimed at any one nation or region, but underscores the United States is and will remain a Pacific power.

The rebalancing comes as the United States winds down its operation in Afghanistan and Iraq and at a time of China's growing military might and its assertive territorial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

During U.S. President Barack Obama's Asia trip last month, U.S. officials said administration will move forward with the new policy, also referred to as the Asia-Pacific pivot.

While in Thailand on the first leg of his trip, Obama said the Asia-Pacific will shape so much of U.S. security and prosperity in this century and will be critical to creating jobs and opportunity for the American people.

"And that's why I've made restoring American engagement in this region a top priority as president," Obama said.

The rebalancing has raised concerns in China with its official media severely attacking the policy.

Locklear said the United States would like China to be a constructive influence on the world stage and that the rebalancing is not so much about equipment or troops -- although they play a part -- but about relationships.

He said his command's mission is to strengthen relationships in the region, adjust U.S. military posture and presence, and employ new concepts, capabilities and capacities to "ensure that we continue to effectively and efficiently contribute to the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific as we protect U.S. national interest."

Locklear said the key to success of the policy will be "innovative access agreements, greatly increased exercises, rotational presence increases and efficient force posture initiatives that will maximize the dollars that we are given to spend."

Locklear said he has good relations with Chinese leaders and referred to that country's recent power transition and the Peoples' Liberation Army's new commanders.

As for China's territorial disputes with other nations, Locklear said the United States does not take sides but does want to see issues resolved peacefully.

The admiral also said India is another rising world power and that his command is working closely with the Indian government to cement the military relationship between the world's two largest democracies.

"We very much support India taking a leadership in the security issues in and around the Indian Ocean," the admiral said. "We are looking for opportunities to participate and interoperate with them where we can."

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