Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will spend three days—May 31 to June 2—in Singapore for the annual Shangri-La dialogue during his first trip to the Asia-Pacific region since becoming the Pentagon’s top civilian leader three months ago. A senior defense official told reporters on Tuesday that the trip would mostly serve as a follow up to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s Shangri-La trip last year during which he laid out the new US defense strategic guidance and pivot to the Pacific. “This year is really about showing that that strategic guidance, the rebalance, is underway and we can demonstrate how things we talked about a year ago are moving forward,” said the defense official during the May 28 background briefing. During the trip, Hagel will conduct discussions with South Korean, Australian, and Japanese officials, stated the official. In addition, he will stop in Hawaii to meet with US Pacific Command boss Adm. Samuel Locklear and Hawaii-based US military personnel. (Backgound briefing transcript) (See also A SEA Change from Air Force Magazine’s 2012 archive.)
Americans’ trust and confidence in the U.S. military has declined precipitously in recent months, according to the results of a survey. Experts lay the blame on increasing political polarization and the fallout from this summer’s turbulent withdrawal from Afghanistan.