US Pacific Command boss Adm. Robert Willard outlined the five main focus areas for the region during his address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference in Hawaii recently. Not surprisingly, China topped that list. Willard said he is committed to improving the military-to-military relationship with the Chinese, but at the same time he called on China to be more transparent about their military and military spending, according to a release. Nuclearization and proliferation in North Korea also remain a concern, especially with the upcoming change in leadership. As such, the US will continue to “reinforce the alliance” with South Korea in the hopes of preventing future provocations, such as last year’s sinking of a South Korean navy ship. Countering violent extremist groups and stopping human and drug trafficking are other focus areas. “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,” said Willard. Finally, PACOM is focused growing its relationship with India, which has the largest military in South Asia, he said.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.