“We are deepening our military engagement with our allies and partners in this region, in order to ensure that we are able to promote security.”
An assessment of United States international priorities, executed in the early days of the Administration of President Barack Obama, yielded a determination that the United States could more fully engage with the Asia-Pacific region across all aspects of U.S. foreign outreach -- diplomatic, economic, political, and military. Recognizing that the United States is a Pacific nation whose interests and future successes are inextricably linked to the Asia-Pacific area, President Obama set out to re-balance U.S. foreign policy in the region.
Increasing security ties through greater military engagement in the region is only one part of the United States’ re-balance efforts. “We are deepening our military engagement with our allies and partners in this region, in order to ensure that we are able to promote security and prosperity for many years to come,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at a recent U.S. and Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, leaders’ meeting. “We reaffirm the importance of ASEAN unity for building regional stability, and also the United States' support for ASEAN-led defense cooperation in a number of critical areas to the region, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security, nonproliferation and counterterrorism,” said Secretary of Defense Panetta.
The United States will increase the number and scope of its military exercises with regional partners. Three new exercises are planned for 2013, including a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise that will be hosted by Brunei; a counterterrorism exercise cosponsored by the United States and Indonesia; and a maritime security exercise co-chaired by Malaysia and Australia.
But, as noted by Secretary Panetta, “our increased military engagement in the region is but one part of the effort by the United States to rebalance. This effort includes not just military, but diplomatic, economic and cultural engagement across the region.”
“We in the Pacific are part of one family of nations, and we may not agree on all issues, but we are committed to work together to ensure the security of that family,” said Secretary of Defense Panetta.
“This is, in many ways, a new era in the U.S. relationship in this region. It is based on the principles of the rule of law. It is based on our presence to try to help develop the capabilities of nations. It is based on partnership. And it is based on the common goal of advancing peace and prosperity and opportunity for all people in all nations in the Asia-Pacific region.”