Promoting Security and Defense Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region

Posted by Vangala Ram
November 17, 2011
Shoppers Cross Ginza District in Tokyo

As President Obama and Secretary Clinton have said, the United States is a Pacific nation with interests and commitments to our Allies and partners in the region. U.S. security and prosperity is closely linked to Asia and the region will remain an important area of focus for U.S foreign policy. Since the 1950s, the U.S. has cooperated closely with our friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific region to address a wide range of shared regional security challenges, from collaborating on humanitarian assistance and stemming nuclear non-proliferation to coordinating our contributions toward international peacekeeping operations.

In a recent visit to Tokyo, I had a chance to take part in close collaboration between our U.S. allies, Japan and Australia. Together, we took stock of current security issues facing the region and how we could build on decades of close cooperation to meet them.

In Tokyo, we attended the Security and Defense Cooperation Forum (SDCF), which is a trilateral discussion between the United States, Australia and Japan that provides an opportunity to discuss the evolving security environment and the prospects for trilateral cooperation. I co-led the U.S. delegation, with participants from the State Department's Bureaus of East Asia and Pacific Affairs and International Security and Nonproliferation, along with colleagues from the Department of Defense, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, Joint Staff, U.S. Pacific Command, and others.

At the SDCF and in my side meetings with the Australians and Japanese, I experienced firsthand the strong relationship and long history of collaboration on security issues with both Australia and Japan. These relationships have a long history, going back to the ANZUS defense treaty with Australia and the U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty in 1960.

At this meeting, we discussed key regional security concerns, in addition to areas of cooperation. The United States, Australia and Japan are cooperating closely on counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, as well as the in the training of UN peacekeepers through the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative.

Another topic was U.S. force posture in the region, as the United States seeks a more operationally resilient and politically sustainable military force distribution in the Asia-Pacific region. The Department of Defense reported that it is working toward a more geographically distributed posture. This change will ensure our ability to secure access to lines of communication vital to the global economy; rapidly respond to regional crises; build partner capacity; and demonstrate our sustained commitment to the region.

My trip to Tokyo helped further our government's track record of over fifty years of deep engagement in support of peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. Our discussions expressed how the United States is committed to providing the necessary resources to support and enhance our diplomatic, economic and defense activities in the Asia-Pacific region. Meetings such as the SDCF are important venues to give U.S. officials the chance to discuss key issues. It was my privilege to be part of this regional trilateral cooperation among our closest allies.



Pablo C.
November 18, 2011

Pablo C. in Chile writes:

It could be important for the U.S. to promote, as the SDCF, security and defense mechanisms including other strategic partners, particularly from the viewpoint of maritime security, such as Chile, among others.


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