Carter Describes Asia-Pacific Strategy in New Delhi
NEW DEHLI, July 23, 2012 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter today described the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy during a speech to Indian defense industry representatives, journalists and others here.
Setting the context for the U.S. desire to improve its military cooperation with India, Carter explained that two central tenets for the new U.S. defense strategy are an increased focus on the Asia-Pacific region and a new approach to security cooperation through enhanced partnerships with other nations.
“The last 10 years have had a profound impact on world affairs, affecting the United States but also countries across the Asia-Pacific and around the world,” he noted.
Carter said that after a decade of conflict, the United States has ended the Iraq War and, with coalition partners, is transitioning security responsibility in Afghanistan to that nation’s own forces over the next two years.
“But while we’ve been fighting insurgency and terrorism there, the world has not stood still, our friends and enemies have not stood still, and technology has not stood still,” he noted. “The successes we’ve had in Afghanistan, and in counterterrorism, mean that we can now focus our attention on other opportunities and challenges.”
A second strategic force shaping future U.S. strategy, Carter said, is the need to keep the nation’s fiscal house in order, as outlined under the Budget Control Act that Congress passed last year.
“While the U.S. base defense budget will not go down under this plan, neither will it continue to rise as we had earlier planned,” the deputy secretary noted. “But the wind-down of Iraq and Afghanistan gives us capacity to turn the strategic corner without an ever-rising budget.”
Strategic history and fiscal responsibility led U.S. leaders to design a new 21st century defense strategy, he said.
President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta steered that effort, and the resulting strategy will build a force for the future that will be what Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey calls the Joint Force of 2020, Carter said.
“As Secretary Panetta has said, it’s going to be agile, lean, ready, technologically advanced, and able to conduct full-spectrum operations and defeat any adversary, anywhere, any time,” said he added.
The shift of focus to the Asia-Pacific region as outlined in the strategy involves several factors, Carter explained.
“[It] is reflected in force structure decisions we make -- that is, what we keep and what we cut; in our posture and presence -- that is, where we put things; in new investments we’re making in technology and weapons systems; in innovative operational plans and tactics; and in alliances and partnerships in the region,” he said. “Importantly, here in India, our rebalance extends to Southeast Asia and South Asia.”
Increased focus on the Asia-Pacific will maintain an environment of peace and security the region has enjoyed for more than 60 years, Carter said. That stability has allowed Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, China and India to rise and prosper, the deputy secretary said.
“The wellsprings of that security have not been found within the region itself -- there’s no NATO here,” he noted. “In the absence of an overarching security structure, the United States military presence has played a pivotal role in ensuring regional stability. We intend to continue to play that role. It’s good for us, and good for everyone in the region.”
The rebalance is not about China, the United States, India, or any other country or group of countries, Carter said. “It’s about a peaceful Asia-Pacific, where sovereign states can enjoy the benefits of security and continue to prosper,” he explained.
To carry out the strategy, the United States military posture in the Asia-Pacific will increase relative to other theaters, he said.
“We intend to have 60 percent of our naval assets in the Pacific by 2020,” Carter said. “We are developing new concepts of rotational presence as opposed to traditional basing, with Marines in Australia, littoral combat ships in Singapore, and forward stationing in Guam.”
The Defense Department also is investing in new platforms and technologies relevant to the region, including a new bomber, new submarine-launched conventional weapons, cyber capabilities, and “a host of upgrades in radars, electronic protection, space and electronic warfare,” the deputy secretary said.
“These and other future-focused investments are another central tenet of our new strategy,” he added.
To those who doubt the United States has the needed resources to realize those investments, Carter said, “I would, to the contrary, point out two factors that make it eminently possible.” With the Iraq War ended and Afghanistan slated to wind down, capacity will be released that can be allocated to the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
“Second, within our budget, we can and are prioritizing investments relative to the Asia-Pacific theater rather than, for example, counterinsurgency, where we have put so much effort over the last decade,” he added. “So the rebalancing is entirely practical.”
The deputy secretary said the central point in the new strategy, as in the decades-long historical U.S. commitment to the region, is to build partnerships that leverage the unique strengths of the nation’s allies and partners. Strong partnerships can help in confronting critical challenges and meeting emerging opportunities, he added.
“So we are taking a strategic and comprehensive approach to security cooperation, as well as to our posture,” he told the Indian audience. “We are streamlining our internal processes and security cooperation programs to share and cooperate with our partners better.”