Nominee Discusses U.S. Pacific Command Priorities
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2007 The admiral nominated to lead U.S. Pacific Command told members of Congress yesterday that he plans to take an “aggressive, but measured and reasonable approach” when dealing with China if he is confirmed.
Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating testified before members of the Senate Armed Service Committee here, assuring them that his experience as commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command have well prepared him for the sensitivities involved in dealing with countries like North Korea, China and Taiwan.
“I’ve developed a keen appreciation for the vibrancy and complexity of this vast region,” Keating said. “Today the healthy alliances, positive economic trends and potential for U.S.-led regional cooperation make it clear to all of us that opportunity is abundant in the Pacific.”
Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin pointed out that Pacific Command encompasses nearly 60 percent of the world’s population, six of the largest military forces, several of the largest economies and the two largest Muslim and democratic countries.
“This assignment comes at a time when we face complex challenges from China and North Korea, as well as the continuing threat of terrorism in Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere in the region,” Levin said.
The admiral said that, if confirmed, he would seek the counsel and insights of allies, partners and members of Congress during his tenure.
“I’ll collaborate with our ambassadors in the region to execute and advance United States policy goals throughout the Asia Pacific theater,” he said.
Keating shared with the Senate members that he would pursue a series of robust engagements with the People’s Liberation Army of China.
“(PACOM) would engage in exercises of some sophistication and frequency,” he said, “and we would pay close attention to the development of their weapon systems and their capabilities … on whether they intend to use those against Taiwan.”
Sustaining the calm that appears to pervade today across the Straits of Taiwan will be one of his principal goals at PACOM, Keating said.
“We would emphasize that China has to be very careful in the development of offensive weapons,” he said. “We would encourage increased dialogue between those two countries on an informal basis.”
The nominee told Senate members that he was committed to continuing the policy to not engage in combat while assisting the Philippines in defeating the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Keating also said that he views the February agreement reached with North Korea as “positive and beneficial.”
“It appears to be a positive step toward denuclearization of the peninsula,” he said, “and that would lead to stability and peace in the peninsula, and that’s a worthwhile goal.”
The admiral shared that PACOM’s emphasis on the war on terror, on security cooperation with allies and partners, on the readiness and posture of forward-deployed forces, and on the command’s operations plans seems appropriate.
“If confirmed, I intend to use these principles as the foundation during my tenure,” he said. “I’m committed to ensuring the men and women of the command are ready and are resourced to sustain peace and stability in the region and to contribute appropriately to U.S. global commitments.”