WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2014 —
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will embark on an around-the-world trip next week focused on protecting U.S. interests but with a special emphasis on the Asia-Pacific, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
Hagel will meet with his counterparts in Germany, India and Australia on what will be his 15th international trip as defense chief.
The secretary’s first stop will be to U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany where he will meet with Eucom’s commander, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who is also NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
At Eucom, Hagel will “receive briefings on the latest developments in Ukraine and the reassurance initiatives we are undertaking with our NATO allies,” Kirby said.
Hagel will also meet with service members and their families.
The secretary will go on to New Delhi where he will hold bilateral meetings with Indian leaders including Defense Minister Arun Jaitley and will deliver a speech at the Observer Research Foundation.
The installation of the new Indian government “offers an opportunity to fulfill the potential of our strategic partnership,” Kirby said. “Secretary Hagel’s meetings will focus on the United States’ and India’s converging interests in the Asia-Pacific.”
Hagel’s visit to India will be another step in U.S. efforts to prepare for newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the White House next month, following today’s visit to the Indian capital by Secretary of State John F. Kerry.
While there, Kirby said Hagel will discuss the situation in Afghanistan with Indian officials as well as ways to strengthen U.S.-Indian defense cooperation, including military exercises, defense, trade, co-production and co-development, and research and new technologies.
The secretary then travels to Sydney, Australia, where he will participate in his second Australia-United States ministerial consultation. Secretary of State Kerry and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will join Hagel for meetings with Australian Defense Minister David Johnston and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. U.S. Pacific Command commander Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III will also participate, Kirby said.
“Secretary Hagel and Defense Minister Johnston will cover the wide range of U.S.-Australia defense cooperation and sign an historic force posture agreement that was first announced by President [Barack] Obama and Prime Minister [Tony] Abbott back in June,” the admiral said.
Upon leaving Australia, Hagel will travel to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
“Given his emphasis on readiness and morale, the secretary’s making this stop to observe training exercises as well as education and transition programs that help Marines adjust to life beyond their service in uniform,” Kirby said.
The trip underscores Hagel’s personal commitment to U.S. partnerships, Kirby said. It also emphasizes U.S. and allies “shared interests in a stable, rules-based order that can continue to deliver peace and prosperity throughout the region,” he added.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)