Strengthening Security Partnerships Across the Asia-Pacific

April 24, 2012
Assistant Secretary Andrew Shapiro is Greeted by Naval Officers in Malaysia

The Asia-Pacific is home to half the world's population, more than half the world's GDP and nearly half of its trade. It is home to key allies and emerging powers. It is also home to booming middle classes and growing economic opportunities and is a region experiencing reductions in poverty without parallel in human history.

I recently traveled to the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, where I saw firsthand how, in the words of Secretary Clinton, "It's becoming increasingly clear that in the 21st century, the world's strategic and economic center of gravity will be the Asia-Pacific."

While this region is experiencing many gains, there are also many challenges, including arms proliferation, piracy, trafficking and smuggling, natural disasters and regional tensions between powerful countries. A top priority for our Bureau's engagement with partners across the Asia-Pacific is expanding security cooperation throughout the region. The United States is pursuing a three-pronged approach to our engagement, in order to follow through on this renewed focus.

• First, we are broadening and deepening our cooperation with our treaty allies like Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines;

• Second, we are enhancing our new partnerships with emerging players like China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia; and

• Third, we are playing an active role in regional multilateral institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). We have strengthened our engagement with ASEAN, including establishing a U.S. Mission in Jakarta with a resident Ambassador.

I started my recent trip in the Philippines, where I met with senior civilian and military officials in Manila, to see how best we could broaden and enhance defense and security cooperation and do it in a way that would be benefit both countries. This was a good follow-up to consultations from the recent U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Security Dialogue in Washington. The Philippines has been an effective and reliable partner in both counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations where our military to military cooperation has been greatly enhanced.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, I attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new U.S. funded barracks at Sentul Peacekeeping Training Center. This facility will help to meet the growing global demand for specialized military and civilian personnel to serve in peacekeeping missions. I also met with senior officials to discuss furthering bilateral political and military cooperation, including Indonesia's recent decision to upgrade its air force with the acquisition from the United States of 24 F-16 aircraft.

In Singapore, I attended the Singapore Air Show 2012 as well as met with senior government officials and industry representatives to discuss defense trade and political-military issues. Afterward, I traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia has contributed a forty-person medical team that deployed to Bamiyan province in Afghanistan to assist in the transition underway there. Malaysia has also increased its participation in military exercises with the United States, including the Rim of the Pacific biennial naval exercises in 2010 and is expanding its participation this year. The Malaysians are also participating in counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton have stated that the United States is a Pacific power. To that end, the Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, as the main liaison with the Department of Defense, will continue to expand and strengthen our defense and security cooperation across the Asia-Pacific region to promote the values that we all share in a peaceful and prosperous future.



April 25, 2012

Mari writes:

It seems to me that the US is carrying out a needlessly provocative policy toward China, whom you list among the countries with whom we are "enhancing our new partnerships."

Dave M.
District Of Columbia, USA
April 26, 2012

Dave McKeeby in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs writes:

@ Mari: Thanks for your comment. Secretary Clinton recently gave a great speech about this topic at the US Naval Academy. You can watch the video and read the whole speech at the link below, but here are a few quotes I'd like to share with you:

-- "We stepped up our engagement with countries and institutions in what I call forward deployed diplomacy."

-- "So just as we are not losing old friends, we are not seeking new enemies. Today’s China is not the Soviet Union. We are not on the brink of a new Cold War in Asia. Just look at the ever expanding trade between our economies, the connections between our peoples, the ongoing consultations between our governments."

-- "In less than 35 years, we’ve gone from being two nations with hardly any ties to speak of to being thoroughly, inescapably interdependent. That requires adjustments in thinking and approaches on both sides."

-- "Geopolitics today cannot afford to be a zero-sum game. A thriving China is good for America and a thriving America is good for China, so long as we both thrive in a way that contributes to the regional and global good."

-- "Let me go one step further. We will only succeed in building a peaceful, prosperous Asia Pacific if we succeed in building an effective U.S.-China relationship."

New Mexico, USA
April 26, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Dave McKeeby,

Thanks for posting your reply. For a long while now I've wondered why folks in the Dept of State didn't seem to take more of an interest in engaging directly with the public commenting on their own official blog as you have here.

In fact if I'm not mistaken, your's is the first of it's kind posted by any official in well over a year or more in reply to a member of the public's feedback to any topic on this blog.

Thank you for taking the time to honor the basic premis of this blog's existance, as stated;

"This blog offers the opportunity for participants to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials."

My question to the entire Dept of State, if you'd care to pass it onward and upward through channels, is;

"What's it going to take to turn this blog into the greatest Public/private think-tank in the world, discussing in considered debate all the grave and pressing issues Humanity faces?"

How else can Dipnote achieve it's potential unless folks @ State are willing and step up to the plate as you have done?



monico f.
May 4, 2012

Monico F. in the Philippines writes:

I am content with the americans for 400 years the spain ruled philippines they sell us to the americans now if china conquered philippines by suprise attack well I have to learn again new language right.

South Korea
April 30, 2012

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Japan's Prime Minister will be visit the United States. Japanese Prime Minister's visit to the United States wishes to be dealt with.

... However, in Japan exist.

Rieko H.
April 29, 2012

Rieko H. in Japan writes:

I have read the Joint Statement of the Security Consultative Committee which was released on April 27, 2012 with my special attention on section II.

I am very pleased that both governments have focused on “New Initiatives to Promote Regional Peace, Stability, and Prosperity”. Also our attention is drawn to a phrase from this section.

“In this context, the U.S. Government plans to continue to help allies and partners in the region to build their capacity with training and exercises. The Government of Japan, for its part, plans to take various measures to promote safety in the region, including strategic use of official development assistance, for example through providing coastal states with patrol boats.”

I believe that “coastal states” include Pacific Island countries where Australia has provided 22 Pacific Patrol Boats over the last 30 years as well as Royal Australian Navy officers for each Pacific Island Nations.

Also, since 2008, the Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation- Japanese NGOs has been working for enhancing the sea surveillance capacity of three Micronesian countries - United State’s Free Association States – including providing patrol boats.

I would like to make two comments on this section.

First, this Joint Statement is exactly in the same direction of the Australian government and two NGOs in Japan. In this sense Japan and the US need to collaborate with Australia who has the experience, and now examine a new approach for maritime security in this region, including expanding the law enforcement capacity.

Secondly, I would like to assert that moving the focus of the US-Japan alliance from Okinawa to the Pacific Ocean would change the direction of this alliance. The US military presence in Okinawa is the result of War. After 70 years, Japan now needs to take responsibility for global security under a US-Japan alliance. After UNCLOS came into force in 1994 small islands states possessed huge EEZ's, and this is where all the transnational illegal activities are now induced, such as IUU, human trafficking, and the smuggling of drugs.

I believe that the US, Japan and Australia need to work on these issues for “Regional Peace, Stability, and Prosperity”.

Ultimately, I believe that this will also lead to solve the Okinawan problem.

Eileen N.
California, USA
May 6, 2012

Dr. Eileen N. in California writes:

Mr Shapiro please look further south to the Western Pacific's small island nations many of whom have been classified as "fragile states" by World Bank criteria. I encourage you to include the many issues these developing countries face including global health issues in your visits fact finding and reports.


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