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Greenert Discusses U.S. Maritime Strategy Shift

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2014 — The Chief of Naval Operations discussed the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region during a presentation at the Brookings Institution here today.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert said the new strategy should be out by the end of the year and he spoke about the need for changes and gave a short status report on his service’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

The last maritime strategy report was issued in 2007.

Extraordinary Changes

“The compelling need for the revision … is [that] obviously the security and fiscal changes since 2007 have been extraordinary,” Greenert told the members of the think tank.

In 2007, the United States entered a recession, the admiral observed, noting that change was brewing in Asia, the Indian Ocean areas and North Africa. And, he added, U.S. forces were in the midst of a troop surge in Iraq.

Seven years later, there is a different set of issues and the maritime services -- the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard -- must plan for them, Greenert said. These, he said, include the hotspots of the world and the cyberworld.

“Our principles will be the same: the value of presence,” the admiral said. The three maritime services, he added, need to be “where it matters, when it matters.”

The strategy will address deterrence, power projection, sea control, maritime security and matters of access, he said.

Greenert addressed critics who say that with all the problems in the world -- most notably in the Middle East and Europe -- that the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region should not happen.

U.S. Long-range Interests in Asia-Pacific Region

“Despite current events, the long-range interests of [the United States] are in the Asia-Pacific,” the admiral said.

He cited some statistics:

-- Fifty percent of the world’s shipping tonnage passes through the straits of Southeast Asia;

-- One-third of global oil and half the world’s natural gas traffic move through the South China Sea;

-- Five of America’s top-15 trading partners are located in the Asia-Pacific region; and

-- Five U.S. treaty allies -- Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and Thailand -- are located in the region.

Rebalance to Asia-Pacific Will Continue

“We have been engaged for more than 70 years in the Asia-Pacific region and with significant presence in the area. We will continue with this rebalance,” Greenert said.

The rebalance means the Navy has been shifting and will continue to shift forces to the region, the admiral said. This shift is not limited to the number of ships, he added, but also capabilities.

The newest, most-capable vessels are moving to the Asia-Pacific/Indian Ocean region, Greenert said. The newest aircraft -- the P-8 -- has already deployed there three times. When the F-35 is ready, it, too will deploy to the region.

U.S., China Economically Intertwined

Also, the admiral said, the United States and China are the world’s largest economies and are intertwined. “The mutual prosperity of both of us is in our collective best interests,” he said.

Military relations between the United States and China play a part in the overall relationship, Greenert said, noting he’s met several times with his Chinese counterpart. The two nations, he said, are looking at where the differences are and how to increase cooperation. China participated in the Rim of the Pacific exercise near Hawaii this past summer. And, the two nations’ navies cooperated in the hunt for the missing Malaysian jet.

Seeking Increased American-Chinese Cooperation

Chinese and American leaders are looking for ways to expand the scope of the relationships and have agreed to have exchange officers at their war colleges and service academies, Greenert said.

“With this rising navy in China, we have … opportunity,” he said. “The challenge is to get rid of unneeded, unfounded and unprofessional cases in the interactions we are inevitably going to have at sea.”

As a Pacific power, the United States is committed to security in the region, Greenert said.

“The alliances are strong and we will honor our treaties,” he said. “The engagement is increasing bilaterally and multilaterally and it’s really part of the rebalance.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)