The United States will remain a pacific power, the top U.S. military chief has said in a remark aimed at sending a clear message to China, which is showing opposition to the American dominance in the region.
“We are and will remain a Pacific power,” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Washington Foreign Press Centre news conference on Monday.
“Our military is and will remain the long arm of that power. We will not shrink from old or new responsibilities.
And we most certainly will not shrink from every opportunity to enhance peace and stability in this vital part of the world,” he said.
According to statements featured on a U.S. Navy website, the Pacific Fleet “remains the world’s largest naval command, extending from the West Coast of the United States, into the Indian Ocean, encompassing three oceans, six continents, and more than half the Earth’s surface.” It has “180 ships, nearly 2,000 aircraft, and 125,000 Sailors, Marines, and Civilians.”
Adm. Mullen, who has just returned from China, said it is important that the U.S. develops its military relationship with China, but it cannot let it develop its thinking, planning and force posture decisions.
“We have other vital and enduring security commitments in the region that we must also deepen and broaden,” he said, adding that this is the reason that he went to Japan and South Korea after his trip to China.
“We aim to strengthen other partnerships, as well. Our alliance with Australia represents yet another model for interoperability, transparency, and meaningful, combined, full-spectrum capabilities. We will make it better with more joint operations, exercises and exchanges,” he said.
“We seek expanded military cooperation, as well, with India on non-proliferation, safeguarding the global commons and countering terrorism. And we will expand our military security cooperation and exercises with the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, and other states in the region, working with them to address common threats to their sovereignty and security,” Adm. Mullen said.
“We would also ask them to do the same with others, and that’s my final point today. We have an enduring security commitment in the Pacific we plan to deepen, but so, too, would we like to see others deepen their cooperation with their neighbours. Relationships matter -- not just bilateral relationships, but collective ones, whether they include the United States or not,” he said.
This is the reason why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travelled to the ASEAN Regional Forum last week, and it’s why the U.S. military will continue to place increased emphasis on its work with that body and with other multilateral forums.