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美國國防部長蓋茨6月4日在新加坡亞洲安全峰會上講話


美國國防部長蓋茨

美國國防部長蓋茨

美國國防部助理國防部長辦公室(公共事務) 國防部長羅伯特.蓋茨(Robert M. Gates)在國際戰略研究所的講話(香格里拉對話會) 新加坡香格里拉酒店(Shangri-La Hotel)2011年6月4日(星期六)

美國國防部助理國防部長辦公室(公共事務)
國防部長羅伯特.蓋茨(Robert M. Gates)在國際戰略研究所的講話(香格里拉對話會)
新加坡香格里拉酒店(Shangri-La Hotel)2011年6月4日(星期六)

謝謝你,約翰(John),謝謝你的美言介紹。

祝賀國際戰略研究所(International Institute for Strategic Studies)達到舉辦第十屆香格里拉安全對話這一重要的里程碑。在這段相對不長的時間裏,這一會議成為了參加國之間鼓勵對話及相互了解的極其重要的論壇。

我還要感謝新加坡政府再次接待我們,感謝香格里拉酒店工作人員付出的辛勤努力。雖然會議的各項有分量的議題和政府高級官員的參加顯然是吸引與會人士的主要原因,但我一直認為,人們一再來到這裡參加這項活動的一個重要原因,是這家酒店和這個城市的殷勤好客。

這 是我以國防部長身份連續第五次 - 如你們所知 - 也將是最後一次參加這一對話。有機會領導美國國防部達四年半之久是我的極大榮幸,為此,我要感謝布殊總統和奧巴馬總統。這也使我能從以下角度來討論我今天想談的主要話題:美國對亞洲的承諾,即使是在過渡和變革時期,始終持久不變。

作為一個在為八位總統效力後即將離開政府的人,我對過渡可能造成的不確定性有所了解。事實上,我在過去在這裡發表的講話中已談及這個問題。在2008年的年會上,在並不知道美國總統選舉會有甚麼結果的情況下 - 當然根本沒有想到我還會成為新一屆政府成員 - 我就說,幾乎可以肯定下一任美國總統將會保持我們之間的接觸,並保持我們在本地區的存在。正如記載顯示,而且我希望我的講話也能進一步表明,在奧巴馬總統任期內,這種接觸不僅得以保持,而且還在各個方面得到擴大和增進。我相信,在被提名接替我的出色領導人利昂_帕內塔(Leon Panetta)的任期內,美國的防務政策也會是同樣的情況。

然而,在我們今天開會的這一時刻,美國在國內外都面臨著一系列嚴峻的挑戰,人們針對我國對世界各地的承諾的可持續性和可信性都提出了問題。這些問題是嚴肅合理的。

毫無疑問,在伊拉克和阿富汗打兩場持久而代價高昂的戰爭使我國軍隊的地面部隊負擔過重,也消耗了美國人民對未來進行類似干預的耐心和興趣。在國內方面,美國正從嚴重的經濟衰退中緩慢復甦,預算赤字巨大,債務日增,這使美國國防預算重新受到審視並承受削減的壓力。

不錯,這是我們面臨的一些嚴峻的現實。但同時,在這裡,在所有與會者面前,說明與美國在亞洲的立場有關的另外一系列同樣有說服力的事實也是十分重要的。歷史顯示,不論美國今天處於一個怎樣困難的時期,或者未來面臨怎樣困難的預算選擇,美國作為一個太平洋國家,作為一個在這個地區從事大量貿易的國家的利益將長期存在下去。在本世紀的進程中,美國和亞洲只會變得越來越不可分割地緊密相連。我希望我今天的講話將會表明,這些現實情況,以及美國領導人和政界各方決策者共同達成的這一理解,都有力地要求保持我們對盟友的承諾,同時在整個環太平洋地區保持強有力的軍事接觸和威懾態勢。

近幾年美國在亞洲參與的廣度和強度突出說明瞭這點 - 即使是在國內經濟困難時期和伊拉克和阿富汗有兩個重大軍事行動同時進行的情況下。三年前,我曾在這個會議上說過,當時我已經是18個月裏第四次對亞太地區進行要事訪問。現在,我可以向你們報告,這是我在過去四年半裏的第14次亞洲之行。下個月,國務卿克林頓將開始她對亞洲的第八次訪問,奧巴馬總統在任的每一年都到亞洲進行要事訪問。

事實上,我訪問亞洲所見到的最引人注目 - 最讓人驚奇的 - 的變化之一,是整個地區對加強與美國的軍方對軍方關係的普遍願望 - 比我20年前在政府任職期間要強烈得多。

指導我們在亞洲參與的是已促成了該地區持久的經濟增長和穩定的一套久經考驗的原則。我去年談到過這些原則,但我認為今天值得重申我們對這些原則的承諾:

- 自由和開放的貿易;
- 公正的國際秩序,強調國家的權利與責任並信守法治;
- 對所有國家開放全球共同的海域、天空、太空、如今還有網路空間;
- 不使用武力解決衝突的原則。

在本地區過去50年的劇烈變化中,美國作為一個太平洋國家的承諾和存在是為數極少的不變數之一。但在這個地區變化的同時,美國不僅在亞太地區保持存在上,而且在改善這種存在上都一直表現出靈活性 - 通過更新關係、發展新的能力以及改變我們的防禦態勢以迎接所面對的挑戰。

例如,在一場毀滅性的戰爭後,美國和日本建立起一個經歷了無數考驗、被證明是本地區一個穩定基石的聯盟。我們這一聯盟的價值最新和最引人注目的表現,是美國和日本軍隊為把援助和糧食運往遭受3月份可怕地震和海嘯的倖存者手中而並肩努力的情形。

想想看,在地震24小時之內,美國發起了"朋友"(TOMODACHI)行動,協助日本自衛隊向受災地區提供援助 - 日本政府動員了10萬多名自衛隊隊員。在這些密切協調的聯合救援的高峰時,美國有24000多人、190架飛機、24艘艦船支援日本救災。美軍和日本自衛隊把救援物資運送到受災社區、修復交通基礎設施、在受災沿岸搜索倖存者。這些努力表明了美軍和日本自衛隊之間高水準的共同運作能力,證明了兩國多年來在聯合訓練和能力方面所給予的投資的正確性。今天,很顯然,這個聯盟不僅經受住了這場悲劇,而且變得更加強大、更加重要。

美國與大韓民國的聯盟是我們亞太安全戰略的另一支柱 - 它起源於冷戰,旨在面對這個地區和全球一系列新的挑戰。我們兩國軍方在繼續發展我們在必要的情況下防止和挫敗北韓侵略的綜合能力。但美韓同盟的目的並不單 純是為了對抗另一個國家。它也必須帶有某種捍衛目標才能有意義和經得起長期考驗。在這方面,我們為建立一個真正的"全球"聯盟並與其他國家合作應對世界各地 - 如海地或阿富汗 - 的危機局勢所作的努力,顯示出我們對促進南韓以外的穩定和繁榮的共同承諾。

不僅在朝鮮半島,而且在整個亞洲,冷戰的動盪已經讓位於夥伴關係與合作。美國和越南走出了曾給我們兩國人民留下難以抹去的陰影的戰爭年代,向前邁步,建立了強有力和充滿活力的雙邊關係。美越兩國共同顯示出如何能夠不重蹈歷史覆轍,將歷史推向前進。正是這種對戰勝貌似不可逾越的障礙的承諾,使我們取得了今日的成就:在一系列領域建立起夥伴關係,包括貿易和投資、教育和健康以及安全和防務等。

我們還在與中國共同努力建立積極、合作和全面的關係。在這一努力中,我們正在看 到上世紀70年代美國三位總統 - 共和黨人和民主黨人 - 為發展兩國關係而作出的富有膽識的決策所帶來的成果,這些決策最終導致1979年兩國實現關係正常化。我身為一名年輕的白宮助理在那個進程中的經歷,是我職業生涯的亮點之一。

30年之後,作為國防部長,我將與中國建立軍方對軍方關係確定為一項重點,近幾個月來,這一關係在穩步發展。今年1 月,我對中國進行了具有非常積極意義的訪問,就在幾個星期前,我們的參謀長聯席會議主席馬倫海軍上將(Admiral Mullen)邀請了中國人民解放軍總參謀長陳炳德上將來美國進行為期一週的訪問。陳上將訪美期間參觀了美國不同的軍事設施。我對能再次會晤和對話總是感到高興,我們也非常高興在這裡的香格里拉對話中與他見面。

同樣令人矚目的是,過去10年來美國與印度關係的改善 - 從冷戰時期的不安共存到基於共同民主價值觀以及重要經濟與安全利益的夥伴合作關係。這一夥伴關係將成為南亞以及更廣泛地區穩定的不可或缺的支柱。無論是打擊海盜活動,加強多邊領域的參與,還是援助阿富汗的發展,我們的合作關係都在發揮關鍵性的作用。

雖然加強我們在亞太地區的雙邊關係一直是 我們在這一地區的關鍵重點,但美國同時也大力注重於幫助促進新的多邊合作。長期以來,亞洲安全環境所面臨的一項關鍵性的挑戰是,這一地區國家間缺乏強有力的合作機制。過去幾年來,我將正在進行的解決這一問題的努力視為我個人的一項首要目標。因此,去年美國成為第一個非東盟國家接受邀請出席東盟國防部長擴大會議(ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus Forum)。去年10月,我在河內榮幸地出席了首屆東盟國防部長擴大會議,我對它將成為一個關鍵性機構,推動在一些涉及共同利益的領域取得進展感到樂 觀,這些領域包括海事安全、人道援助和救災、以及維和行動等。

海事安全仍是這一地區尤其重要的問題,領土要求以及對海洋領域的恰當使用等問題,給地區穩定與繁榮帶來持續挑戰。美國在海事安全問題上的立場依然是明確的:航行自由、不受阻隔的經濟發展和商務以及遵循國際法,均為我們的國家利益 所在。我們還認為,《聯合國海洋法公約》(UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)所體現的國際法慣例,為恰當利用海洋領域提供了明確指導以及使用權。通過在適當的地區和多邊論壇進行合作,以及遵循我們認為對這一地區各方有益的 原則,我們能夠確保各方享有平等和公開的運用國際水路的權利。

以往的經驗一貫顯示,合力謀求我們的共同利益有助於增進我們的共同安全。正如我已經闡明的,保障安全、堅持我剛提到過的那些原則並不是某一個國家的任務,而是所有國家的共同責任。這就是我們下大力氣在本地區建設友邦的夥伴合作能力、在亞太安全事務中提高多邊合作與多邊組織作用的原因所在。

即使如此,我們仍認識到,美國的防務合作 - 從我們的前沿部署部隊,到與地區夥伴國家一起舉行演習等 - 將繼續為這一地區的穩定發揮不可或缺的作用。儘管近年來美國和本地區的媒體把注意力集中在我們對在東北亞傳統盟國的駐軍安排進行現代化建設的努力上 - 我們對於這些努力的承諾是毋庸置疑的 - 我們也已經採取了多項步驟,努力在整個亞太地區建立一個地域分佈更為合理、行動運作更為靈活機動、在政治上更能持久的防衛態勢。這樣一個態勢在維持我們在 東北亞的存在的同時,也將增進我們在東南亞以及印度洋地區的存在。

例如,去年11月,美國與澳大利亞建立了一個軍事態勢工作組,研究擴大兩國軍隊聯合進行訓練與行動的機會,包括達成允許更多的聯合防務活動和共同使用防務設施的盟國安排。

我們正在一起評估一系列可能採取的措施,其中包括:

- 加強我們的聯合海軍部署以及更迅速地對人道災難作出反應的能力;
- 改善在國際上的重要性日益增長的印度洋地區的設施;
- 擴大兩棲及陸上訓練演習等可讓這一地區其他夥伴國參與的活動。

在 新加坡,我們正在《戰略框架協議》(Strategic Framework Agreement)的架構下加強我們的雙邊防務關係並力爭展開更多的行動合作,其中最顯著的是在新加坡部署美國瀕海戰鬥艦(U.S. Littoral Combat Ships)。我們正在探討增加兩國軍隊聯合訓練與行動的機會的其他方式,其中包括:

- 將物資預先佈置到位,改進救災反應;
- 改進指揮與控制能力;
- 增加訓練機會以幫助我們的部隊應對兩國軍隊在太平洋地區行動時面臨的挑戰。

雖然我們將繼續通過這些努力保持並增進我們在亞太地區的傳統軍事存在,但我們相信,美國的存在及相關的影響不應僅用常規的標準,即"兵力部署"來衡量。在未來幾年當中,美軍將增加港口造訪、海事交流及同整個地區的多個國家進行多邊演習。這類活動不僅將擴大和深化美國與朋友和盟國的關係,也將有助於夥伴國發展 應對地區性挑戰的能力。

總之,這些行動顯示了美國對於在亞洲保持一個強有力的軍事存在的承諾,該承諾通過在威懾並在必要時打敗潛在敵對勢力的同時向盟國提供支援與保證來保障穩定。

毫無疑問,保持前瞻性的軍事部署以及維持承諾的費用是巨大的,也不可能脫離更為廣泛的有關美國財務困境的整體討論,特別是我們的防務預算所承受的沉重壓力的具體問題。我知道,這是這次會議與會者最為關注的議題,也是本地區各國最為關注的問題。

正如我在開始講話時所指出的,美國國內面臨著一些嚴峻的財政挑戰,而國防預算,即使它不是造成美國財務困境的原因,也至少必須被納入解決方案。我估計到會出現這種情況,因此在過去兩年中已經通過取消有問題的或不需要的武器項目並剔除過多的管理費用,儘可能留出預算餘地。

如我在上星期的講話中所說,從預算中取消了問題最多和最值得質疑的武器項目以後,我們所要做的是國防領導人所認為的對未來絕對關鍵的現代化努力 - 關係到空中優勢和機動性、遠端攻擊、核威懾、海上通道、太空和網路、情報、監視和偵察等。雖然審議工作尚未完成,但我相信所保留的這些關鍵性現代化項目 - 它們是對我們在亞洲的軍事戰略尤其重要的系統 - 將會居於我們未來國防預算的首位或接近首位。

在這些關鍵的現代化項目中,有許多針對的是我們看到在不遠的未來日益增長的主要安全挑戰之一:新的和破壞性技術和武器可能會被用來阻斷美軍重要的海上航路和通訊線路。

美國海軍和空軍對可能出現的拒絕通路和區域限制的情況存在擔心已經有一段時間。這兩個軍種正在共同努力發展一個叫做"空海戰"("Air-Sea Battle")的新的行動概念,確保美國軍隊將繼續能夠為捍衛我們的盟國和關鍵利益而進行遠端部署、調動和出擊。

美國日益擴大參與亞洲事務的紀錄,加上對於維護我國在這個地區的友邦和合作夥伴的安全、主權和自由最需要的能力建設進行的投資表明,美國對世界這個地區 - 用老話說就是 - 說話算數,並且將繼續這樣做。即使面臨海外新的威脅和國內的財政挑戰,這些項目正在如期擴大並將在未來進一步發展,確保我們以應有的軍力、態勢和存在繼續 履行作為一個21世紀亞太國家的承諾。

我坦誠,仍有一些眼光短淺的人堅持認為,我們在亞太地區的作用難以為繼。也有一些悲觀的論調認為, 美國最好的時光已經過去。毫無疑問,美國面臨的挑戰極其艱巨。但是,在我結束我的公務生涯之際,我對美國的前景依舊充滿信心,因為我一生中親眼目睹了美國的持久力與適應力。歷史的垃圾箱裏確實充滿了一些低估了美國的活力、意志和根本力量的獨裁者和侵略者。

我是在45年前的這個夏天、在美國在越南集結軍隊的高峰期第一次到華盛頓開始我的職業生涯的。在我在政府奉職的頭十年期間發生了:

- 國內兩起具有重大歷史意義的暗殺事件及伴隨而來的國內暴力與動盪;

- 一位總統不光彩的辭職;
- 美國以高昂的代價倉促從越南撤軍;
- 經濟遭受高通貨膨脹和高利率的嚴重打擊。

當我於上世紀70年代中期完成了公職生涯的第一個十年的時候,關於美國在世界上的地位、它在亞洲的地位以及它最終成功的前景這些方面,美國當時甚至面臨著比今天還多得多的尖銳問題。但正是在這樣一段充滿挫折的時期內,通過美國兩黨的政府所推行的一系列政策奠定了今後數十年各種局勢出現顯著轉機的基礎:在冷戰中獲勝及蘇聯的解體、鐵幕背後和全世界各地億萬人民獲得解放、亞洲率先重新開創全球欣欣向榮的時期。儘管有過種種相反的預測,但美國在越南遭到的挫折並沒有註定結束我們對亞洲事務的參與,事實上 - 如我剛才所說 - 我們尋求同中國建立了一種新的關係,並自那時以來一直在擴大我們在這一地區 - 包括越南在內 - 的防衛夥伴關係。

我們沒有辦法預測未來,我們也無法預測今天作出的決定會在今後10年或20年產生甚麼影響。但我相信,我們在亞洲所做的工作正在為美國和這一地區所有的國家奠定繼續繁榮和安全的基礎。我深感欣慰的是,我在自己的職業生涯中看到了美國在亞洲的參與所帶來的巨大好處。在我離開美國政府之際,我毫不懷疑,未來數代人對美國在這一地區的軍事力量、存在和承諾所帶來的種種好處,會有著跟我的敘述相同的說法。

因為當美國願意帶頭前進的時候;當我們履行自己的承諾,甚至在艱難時刻也與我們的盟友站在一起的時候;當我們為地面上、地平線上、甚至超越地平線而顯現的威脅作好準備的時候;當我們作出必要的犧牲並擔當必要的風險去捍衛我們的價值觀和我們的利益的時候,對於我國、對於這一地區乃至全世界而言,建立豐功偉績便是可能的、甚至是很有可能的。

謝謝大家。

美國國務院國際信息局


Defense Secretary Gates on U.S. Commitments in Asia
04 June 2011

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

Speech
International Institute for Security Studies (Shangri-La Dialogue)
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates,
Shangri-La Hotel
Singapore
Saturday, June 04, 2011

Thank you, John, for that kind introduction.

And congratulations to the International Institute for Strategic Studies on reaching this important milestone with the tenth Shangri-La Security Dialogue. This conference, in that relatively short span of time, has become a vital forum for encouraging dialogue and understanding among the participant countries.

I’d also like to extend my thanks to the government of Singapore for hosting us once again, and to the Shangri-La hotel staff for all their hard work as well. Although the mix of weighty topics and senior governmental officials is clearly the main draw for attendees, I’ve long suspected that one of the key reasons people keep coming back to this event is the wonderful hospitality of this hotel and this city.

Indeed, this is the fifth consecutive year I’ve participated in this dialogue as Secretary of Defense, and as you know, it will be my last. The opportunity to lead the United States Department of Defense for four and a half years has been an extraordinary honor, for which I thank both President Bush and President Obama. It has also given me perspective on the principal subject I want to discuss today: the enduring and consistent nature of America’s commitments in Asia, even in times of transition and change.

As someone who will leave government having served eight presidents, I know something about the uncertainty that transitions can cause. In fact, I’ve touched on this subject in my remarks here before. At the 2008 session, not knowing what the outcome of the United States presidential election would be – and certainly not thinking that I would be a member of the new administration – I said that the next American president would be almost certain to sustain our engagement and our presence in this region. As the record shows, and my speech I hope will make clear, under President Obama that engagement has not only been sustained, it has been broadened and enhanced in a variety of ways. And I believe the same will hold true with respect to U.S. defense policy under Leon Panetta, the distinguished statesman nominated as my successor.

Nonetheless, we meet today at a time when the United States faces a daunting set of challenges at home and abroad. When questions are being raised about the sustainability and credibility of our commitments around the world. These questions are serious and legitimate.
No doubt, fighting two protracted and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has strained the U.S. military’s ground forces, and worn out the patience and appetite of the American people for similar interventions in the future. On the domestic front, the United States is emerging slowly from a serious recession with huge budget deficits and growing debt that is putting new scrutiny and downward pressure on the U.S. defense budget.

These are some of the stark realities we face, to be sure. But at the same time, it is important, in this place, before this audience, to recognize an equally compelling set of facts with respect to America’s position in Asia. A record demonstrating that, irrespective of the tough times the U.S. faces today, or the tough budget choices we confront in the years to come, that America’s interests as a Pacific nation – as a country that conducts much of its trade in the region – will endure. And the United States and Asia will only become more inextricably linked over the course of this Century. As I hope my presentation today will show, these realities, and this understanding – shared by U.S. leaders and policy makers across the political spectrum – argue strongly for sustaining our commitments to allies while maintaining a robust military engagement and deterrence posture across the Pacific Rim.

This statement is underscored by the significant growth in the breadth and intensity of U.S. engagement in Asia in recent years – even at a time of economic distress at home and two major military campaigns ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three years ago, I spoke at this gathering and touted the fact that I was on my fourth major trip to Asia-Pacific in the previous 18 months. Now, I can report that this is my fourteenth Asia trip over the last four and a half years. Next month, Secretary of State Clinton will embark on her eighth trip to Asia, and President Obama has made a major Asia trip each year he has been in office.
Indeed, one of the most striking – and surprising – changes I’ve observed during my travels to Asia is the widespread desire across the region for stronger military-to-military relationships with the United States – much more so than during my last time in government 20 years ago.
Our engagement in Asia has been guided by a set of enduring principles that have fostered the economic growth and stability of the region. I spoke about these principles last year, but I think it is worth reiterating our commitment to them once more today:

‥ Free and open commerce;
‥ A just international order that emphasizes rights and responsibilities of nations and fidelity to the rule of law;
‥ Open access by all to the global commons of sea, air, space, and now, cyberspace; and
‥ The principle of resolving conflict without the use of force.

The commitment and presence of the United States as a Pacific nation has been one of relatively few constants amidst the furious changes in this region over the past half-century. But as this region has changed, America has always shown the flexibility not only maintain our presence in the Asia-Pacific, but to enhance it – by updating relationships, developing new capabilities, and transforming our defense posture to meet the challenges of the day.

For example, after fighting a devastating war, the United States and Japan built an alliance that has weathered innumerable tests and proven to be a cornerstone of stability in the region. The most recent and compelling display of the value of our alliance was the sight of the U.S. and Japanese troops working together to bring aid and sustenance to the survivors of the horrific earthquake and tsunami in March.

Consider that within 24 hours of the earthquake, the United States initiated Operation TOMODACHI to deliver assistance to the affected areas in support of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces – more than 100,000 of whom had been mobilized by the Japanese government. At the peak of these closely coordinated joint relief efforts, the United States had more than 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft, and 24 ships supporting Japan’s response. The U.S. military and Japanese Self-Defense Forces delivered relief supplies to affected communities, repaired transportation infrastructure, and searched for survivors along the affected coast line. This effort demonstrated the high-level of interoperability between the U.S and Japanese defense forces and served to validate years of investments by both nations in combined training and capabilities. Today it is clear that the alliance not only has survived this tragedy, but emerged even stronger and even more vital.

The U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea remains another pillar of our Asia-Pacific security strategy – one that has emerged out of its Cold War origins to confront a new array of security challenges in the region and globally as well. Our two militaries continue to develop our combined capabilities to deter and defeat, if necessary, North Korean aggression. But the U.S.-ROK alliance is not designed to simply stand against another nation. It must also stand for something, in order to be meaningful and to endure. In this respect, our efforts to build a truly ǒglobalō alliance and to work with others in response to crisis situations around the world, such as in Haiti or Afghanistan, demonstrate our collective commitment to promote stability and prosperity beyond Korea’s shores as well.

Not only in Korea, but in nations across Asia, Cold War turbulence has given way to new partnerships and cooperation. Out of an era of conflict that left an indelible imprint on both our peoples, the United States and Vietnam have forged ahead and built a strong and vibrant bilateral relationship. Together, the United States and Vietnam have demonstrated how to build upon the past without being bound to repeat it. This commitment to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles led us to where we are today: partnership on a range of issues including trade and investment, education and health, and security and defense.
We are also now working together with China to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship. In that effort, we are seeing the fruits of bold decisions by three American presidents in the 1970s, Republicans and Democrats, to build a rapport between the two nations that ultimately resulted in the normalization of relations in 1979. It was one of the highlights of my professional career to serve as a young staff assistant in the White House when that process unfolded.

Thirty years later, as Secretary of Defense, I have made it a priority to build military-to-military ties with China, which have steadily improved in recent months. Last January, I had a very positive visit to China, and just a few weeks ago our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, hosted General Chen, Chief of the PLA General Staff, for a week-long visit to the United States, where General Chen was shown a number of different U.S. military installations. It’s always my pleasure to meet again with pleasure dialogue, and we are very pleased to see him here at the Shangri-La dialogue.
Also remarkable is the transformation in the U.S.-India relationship over the past decade – from an uneasy coexistence during the Cold War to a partnership based on shared democratic values and vital economic and security interests. A partnership that will be an indispensable pillar of stability in South Asia and beyond. Whether countering piracy, increasing participation in multilateral venues, or aiding the development of Afghanistan, our partnership is playing a vital role.

Although bolstering our bilateral relationships in the region has been a key priority in the Asia-Pacific area, the United States has also made a major commitment to help foster new multilateral cooperation. One of the critical challenges of the Asian security environment has long been the lack of strong mechanisms for cooperation between nations in the region. Over the past few years, I have made it a personal priority to support efforts underway to remedy this problem. This is the reason that last year the United States was the first non-ASEAN nation to accept the invitation to join the ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus forum. It was an honor to attend the inaugural meeting of the ADMM-Plus in Hanoi last October, and I am optimistic that it will be a key body for making progress on a number of issues of shared interest – including maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping operations.
Maritime security remains an issue of particular importance for the region, with questions about territorial claims and the appropriate use of the maritime domain presenting on-going challenges to regional stability and prosperity. The U.S. position on maritime security remains clear: we have a national interest in freedom of navigation; in unimpeded economic development and commerce; and in respect for international law. We also believe that customary international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, provides clear guidance on the appropriate use of the maritime domain, and rights of access to it. By working together in appropriate regional and multilateral fora, and adhering to principles that we believe are of benefit to all in the region, we can ensure that all share equal and open access to international waterways.

Experience consistently shows that pursuing our common interests together increases our common security. As I have stated before, providing for security and upholding the principles I mentioned earlier is not the task of any one nation alone, but the shared responsibility of all nations. This is the one reason we have placed a premium on building the partner capacity of friends in the region and enhancing the role of multilateral cooperation and organizations in Asia-Pacific security affairs.

Even so, we recognize that the American defense engagement – from our forward deployed forces to exercises with regional partners – will continue to play an indispensable role in the stability of the region. Although much of the press in both the United States and the region has been focused in recent years on our efforts to modernize our basing arrangements with traditional allies in Northeast Asia – and our commitment to those efforts is absolute – we’ve taken a number of steps towards establishing a defense posture across the Asia Pacific that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable. A posture that maintains our presence in Northeast Asia while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean.

For example, this past November, the U.S. and Australia established a force posture working group tasked with expanding opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together – to include alliance arrangements that would allow for more combined defense activities and shared use of facilities.

Together, we are evaluating a range of options, including:
‥ Increasing our combined naval presence and capabilities to respond more readily to humanitarian disasters;
‥ Improving Indian Ocean facilities – a region of growing international importance; and
‥ Expanding training exercises for amphibious and land operations, activities that could involve other partners in the region.

In Singapore, we are strengthening our bi-lateral defense relationship within the context of the Strategic Framework Agreement and pursuing more operational engagement – most notably, by deploying U.S. Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore. We are examining other ways to increase opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together, to include:
‥ Prepositioning supplies to improve disaster response;
‥ Improving command and control capabilities; and
‥ Expanding training opportunities to help prepare our forces for the challenges both militaries face operating in the Pacific.

Although we will continue to maintain and enhance our traditional presence in the Asia-Pacific region through efforts such as these, we believe that U.S. presence, and the associated impact and influences should not solely be measured in terms of conventional metrics, or ǒboots on the ground.ō In the coming years, the U.S. military is going to be increasing its port calls, naval engagements, and multilateral training efforts with multiple countries throughout the region. These types of activities not only broaden and deepen our relationships with friends and allies, they help build partner capacity to address regional challenges.

Taken together, all of these developments demonstrate the commitment of the United States to sustaining a robust military presence in Asia – one that underwrites stability by supporting and reassuring allies while deterring, and if necessary defeating, potential adversaries.
No doubt, sustaining this forward military presence and commitments is costly, and cannot be disentangled from the wider discussions of the U.S. fiscal predicament in general, and the pressures on our defense budget in particular. I know this topic is top of the mind at this conference and around the region.

As I noted at the beginning of my remarks, the U.S. faces some serious fiscal challenges at home, and the defense budget – even if not the cause of America’s fiscal woes – must be at least part of the solution. Anticipating this scenario, I have spent that last two years carving out as much budget space as possible by cancelling troubled or unneeded weapons programs and culling excess overhead.

As I said at a speech last week, having removed the most troubled and questionable weapons programs from the budget, we are left with modernization efforts that our defense leaders have deemed absolutely critical to the future – relating to air superiority and mobility, long-range strike, nuclear deterrence, maritime access, space and cyber, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Though the review is not complete, I am confident that these key remaining modernization programs – systems that are of particular importance to our military strategy in Asia – will rank at or near the top of our defense budget priorities in the future.
Many of those key modernization programs would address one of the principal security challenges we see growing over the horizon: The prospect that new and disruptive technologies and weapons could be employed to deny U.S. forces access to key sea routes and lines of communication.

The U.S. Navy and Air Force have been concerned about anti-access and area denial scenarios for some time. These two military services are working together to develop a new concept of operations – called ǒAir-Sea Battleō – to ensure that America’s military will continue to be able to deploy, move, and strike over great distances in defense of our allies and vital interests.
The record of growing U.S. engagement in Asia, combined with the investments being made in capabilities most relevant to preserving the security, sovereignty, and freedom of our allies and partners in the region, show that America is, as the expression goes, putting ǒour money where our mouth isō with respect to this part of the world – and will continue to do so. These programs are on track to grow and evolve further into the future, even in the face of new threats abroad and fiscal challenges at home, ensuring that that we will continue to meet our commitments as a 21st century Asia-Pacific nation – with appropriate forces, posture, and presence.

Now, I acknowledge that are still some myopic souls who will argue that we cannot sustain our role in Asia-Pacific. That there are some voices of gloom and doom who would also argue that the best days of the United States are behind it. No doubt the challenges America faces as a nation are daunting. But as I end my career in government, I remain completely optimistic about the prospects of the United States because I have seen first-hand the staying power and adaptability of America over the course of my life. Indeed, history’s dustbin is littered with dictators and aggressors who underestimated America’s resilience, will, and underlying power.
It was forty-five years ago this summer that I first went to Washington to begin my career at the height of the U.S. buildup in Vietnam. What lay ahead during my first decade in government were:
‥ Two assassinations at home of historic consequence, with violent domestic turmoil;
‥ The resignation of a president in disgrace;
‥ A costly and hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam; and
‥ An economy battered by high inflation and high interest rates.

As I ended my first decade in government in the mid 1970s, the United States faced even more pointed questions about its place in the world, its place in Asia, and its ultimate prospects for success than it does today. But it was during that discouraging period that the groundwork was being laid – through policies pursued by administrations of both American political parties – for the remarkable turn of events of the following decades: victory in the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the liberation of hundreds of millions of people behind the iron curtain and around the world, and a period of renewed global prosperity – with Asia leading the way. And despite predictions to the contrary, America’s setback in Vietnam did not spell the end of our engagement in Asia – in fact, as I mentioned earlier, we pursued a new relationship in China and have been expanding our defense partnerships in the region, including Vietnam, ever since.

There is no way we can predict the future, nor can we predict the effect that decisions made today will have a decade or two from now. But I believe our work in Asia is laying the groundwork for continued prosperity and security for the United States and for all in the region. It has been enormously gratifying through the course of my career to see the profound good that has come about from American engagement in Asia. And as I leave the United States government, I have no doubt that future generations will have a similar story to tell about the benefits of American power, presence and commitment in this region.
For when America is willing to lead the way; when we meet our commitments and stand with our allies, even in troubling times; when we prepare for threats that are on the ground and on the horizon, and even beyond the horizon; and when we make the necessary sacrifices and take the necessary risks to defend our values and our interests – then great things are possible, and even probable for our country, this region, and the world.

Thank you.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. )

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