FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii, July 1, 2014 —
The world faces a confused security environment, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday, but the United States can deal with it.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told soldiers of U.S. Army Pacific during an all-hands call that it is the right time and the right thing to rebalance U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific theater.
Different areas of the world mean different security situations, the chairman explained.
“In this region of the world, there’s a rising sense of nationalism among the countries,” the chairman said. “The effort and intent of China to emerge on the world stage presents a different type of security challenge.”
In the Middle East, he told the soldiers, nationalism is breaking down amid fragmentation of national identity and the emergence of extremist groups.
The situation in Europe is somewhere between that in Asia and the Middle East, the general said. “There’s a group of nations trying to pull Europe together with organizations like NATO and the European Union,” he added, but he noted that in parts of Europe, there’s also a countervailing trend to see things in terms of national interests and ethnic identities.
Worldwide, Dempsey said, the security environment is confused. “It’s something we have to address,” he added. “You take the world as you find it, not as you hope it to be. And fortunately, we’ve got a great group of leaders and men and women in uniform that are willing to do just that.”
This security environment means the U.S. military must be prepared for different operations in different parts of the world, the nation’s top military officer said. “In this region, it is nations competing with other nations,” Dempsey said. “In the Middle East, it is about groups who don’t even care about borders competing with each other. In Europe, it is something in-between. That makes it very difficult to understand how to build the force.”
In the Asia-Pacific region, the threat of conventional conflict -- nation versus nation -- is higher than anywhere else, he said. In the Middle East, the risk is the long campaign against global terrorism.
“The use of military power in the Middle East is very much different than it would be if something broke out in the Pacific,” Dempsey said. “In Europe is a new challenge with Russian aggressiveness and assertiveness that we are trying to shape through NATO.”
American service members need to be ready to confront a myriad of threats, Dempsey said. “I wouldn’t put away your field manuals that describe how to do maneuver and combined arms effects and traditional conflict,” the chairman said. “It’s probably a little early. We need to do both.”
The Asia-Pacific region has many security interests for the United States -- so many interests and implications for the region and the world, the chairman said, that the U.S. rebalance really is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
South Asia and Southeast Asia alone have 17 percent of the world’s land mass, he noted, but 50 percent of its population.
“Frankly, the distractions we are facing elsewhere shouldn’t distract from our interests and to posture ourselves better in the Pacific,” Dempsey said.
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