Pacific Command Boss Shares Strategic Goals
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2009 U.S. Pacific Command remains vigilant toward the Chinese military while also working toward building a cooperative relationship, Pacom’s top officer told Defense Department bloggers and online journalists yesterday.
“When I talk to Chinese military and diplomatic leaders about the growth of their military, they come back and say to me [that] all they want to do is protect what is theirs, Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating said during a Defense Department Bloggers Roundtable conference call. “We certainly understand that as a strategic goal. We share that same strategic goal.”
Keating said Pacom officials are encouraging China to work with them. “We want them to understand that there is plenty of area for us to cooperate so as to develop better understanding between their military and ours,” the admiral said.
Despite a willingness to work with China’s military, Keating said, Pacom still is watching the development of Chinese submarine technology closely. “We’re keeping a very close eye on both their numbers, their quantity and their quality,” Keating said. “Their quantity is increasing gradually; their quality is not insignificant.”
He added that the U.S. Navy enjoys a dramatic technological advantage over all other countries that have submarines. More than 250 submarines maneuver in Pacom’s area of responsibility on a given day, Keating said.
Meeting challenges in the Pacific, however, requires multiple partnerships, Keating said. The Asia-Pacific region is home to more than 3.5 billion people, and it encompasses more than half of the Earth's surface. Pacom officials are working on multilateral solutions with all allies, partners and other countries in the region so that they can meet challenges together, he said.
“We are committed to security, stability and prosperity,” Keating said. “A word that we hear from time to time by other countries in our AOR is they want to be a part of the ‘coalition of the committed,’ not just part of the ‘coalition of the willing,’ and we think that is a good phrase.”
To encourage that growth, every day, “members of our command are taking part in bilateral and multilateral activities that support Pacific Command’s commitment to an engagement strategy based on partnership, readiness and presence,” Keating said.
Keeping maritime domain and the lanes of commerce open and accessible is one of the principal goals for partner nations, Keating said.
“Tens of millions of containers transit the waters of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean each year,” he said. “Our interest in maritime domain security is profound.” Roughly 80 percent of the oil that passes through the Strait of Malacca is bound for China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, he added.
To help increase understanding of Pacom’s mission, Keating pointed the bloggers to the command’s social media presence.
“We’re embracing the new technology,” he said. “The value we place upon our ability to spread information in an accurate, timely manner … is very high. And we’re doing our best to use the media that are available - to use old and new.”
(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the Defense Media Activity’s new media directorate.)