US Pacific Command boss Adm. Samuel Locklear arrived in Washington D.C. this week for meetings with senior officials and briefings to pitch his command’s stepped-up security engagement in Asia. Locklear says the US must stretch its footprint beyond its traditional presence around Japan and the Korean Peninsula. From new rotations in South Korea for Army troops, to the rotation of Marines in Darwin, Australia, the US presence in Asia today involves sending units “where they are relevant to today’s security environment—not necessarily the one we had 50 years ago,” he said in a Pentagon release. PACOM has three ongoing rotations, including an Army aviation unit that recently deployed to South Korea, as well as Marines in Australia, and the Littoral Combat Ship now rotating to Singapore. All three help build on the US “rebalance,” he added. The presence of US forces in areas outside of their historic garrisons, especially around Southeast Asia, are an indication of shifting US interests and are linked to the demands of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. Air Force engagement with Australia also is expanding, and senior USAF officials have engaged broadly across Southeast Asia in the past year.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.