US Pacific Command Admiral Robert Willard today stressed that the United States is committed to the security of the Asia Pacific Region.
Admiral Willard said he had the opportunity to work very closely with the regional leadership, in providing and helping provide security across the Asia Pacific region, which is the main thrust of U.S. Pacific command.
“The responsibility extends from the U.S. forces on the West Coast of the United States and Alaska to a dividing line between India and Pakistan. The command is comprised of 320,000 uniformed members, civilians, and contractors that help to contribute to Pacific Command’s mission.” -Admiral Willard
He reported there are U.S. forces in Hawaii, on the island of Guam, and located in Japan with our Japan allies, to the tune of about 50,000 forces. There’s another 30,000 U.S. forces that are helping to maintain the armistice on the Korean Peninsula, alongside its allies, the Republic of Korea.
He said there are essentially five areas of principal focus within Pacific Command. Of those five, one is managing U.S. relationship with China, which is very obviously undergoing a tremendous change in the region, given China’s advancements, both economically and militarily.
“One of my charters is to improve the relationship, mil-to-mil, between the United States and the Chinese. And we endeavor to do that across a large spectrum of engagement with China, wherever and whenever we can.” -Admiral Willard
He added the U.S. also manages the threat posed by North Korea. He cited that for more than 50 years, alongside its allies, the Republic of Korea, they have been deterring North Korea and maintaining the armistice across the Demilitarized Zone.
He noted that North Korea is posing additional challenges in terms of nuclearization, proliferation, the stability construct within North Korea.
The U.S. government is tending to many of those things and attempting to contribute to the whole of U.S. government and international effort to see North Korea alter their trajectory. Admiral Willard higlighted that their main focus is in its alignment with its allies in South Korea, continuing to deter provocation such as they encountered last year in 2010 with the sinking of the corvette Cheonan, and the attack against Yeonpyeong Island.
He stressed the United States will continue to reinforce the alliance, continue to strengthen it, as has been discussed in President Lee’s visit to the United States and President Obama’s comments on the region.
Admiral Willard also noted that the U.S. deals with a great many transnational threats in the region. The threat range from proliferation to trafficking in humans and trafficking in drugs, to violent extremist organizations.
“We’re laid down in the southern Philippines, continuing to contain the Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiyah, two extremist organizations that threaten both the stability of the southern Philippines and the region.” -Admiral Willard
He cited that the United States has a special focus area on its relationship with India – a strategic partnership that continues to grow, both government-to-government and military-to-military.
“India is the largest democracy in South Asia. It’s the most consequential military in the region. And it operates in a fairly challenging neighborhood. Our relationship with India is not very old.” -Admiral Willard