Pacific Command Seeks Collaboration, Not Confrontation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 The United States would like China to be a constructive influence on the world stage, and the U.S. Pacific Command is stressing cooperation and collaboration, not confrontation, in the region, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said here today.
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, briefs the media on Asia security issues at the Pentagon, Dec. 6, 2012. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The admiral, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the command is moving forward on the U.S. move to rebalance forces to the Pacific.
“The rebalance draws on the strengths of the entire U.S. government, including policy, diplomacy, trade and, of course, security,” Locklear said during a Pentagon news conference.
The rebalance is not aimed at any one nation or region, the admiral said. The strategy underscores that the United States is and will remain a Pacific power.
Locklear stressed that rebalancing is not so much about equipment or troops -- although they play a part -- but about relationships. Rebalancing to the Pacific came from the defense strategic guidance released in January. Pacom’s mission is to strengthen relationships in the region, adjust U.S. military posture and presence, and employ new concepts, capabilities and capacities.
This will “ensure that we continue to effectively and efficiently contribute to the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific as we protect U.S. national interest,” the admiral said. “The keys to success will be innovative access agreements, greatly increased exercises, rotational presence increases and efficient force posture initiatives that will maximize the dollars that we are given to spend.”
China is increasingly asserting itself in the region, but the admiral said he has good relations with Chinese leaders. China has undergone a power transfer and the Peoples’ Liberation Army has new commanders.
There are territorial disputes between China and other nations in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Locklear reiterated the U.S. position on these disputes. He said America does not take sides but does want to see issues resolved peacefully.
“We call on all the parties there, including the Chinese, to ensure that, as they approach these problems, that they do so in a way that avoids conflict, that avoids miscalculation, that uses the vehicles available today through diplomacy and through those legal forums that allow them to get to reasonable solutions on these without resorting to coercion or conflict,” the admiral said.
In addition to asserting what it believes is its role in the region, China has also embarked on an effort to modernize its military. The latest indicator was the landing of a naval variant of the J-15 jet on Beijing’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
“If I were China and I was in the economic position that China is in and I was in a position of where I have to look after my global security interests, I would consider building an aircraft carrier, and I might consider building several aircraft carriers,” Locklear said.
It’s not so much having such a military capability, but what China does with it that concerns the admiral.
Aircraft carriers have a role in maintaining the peace. “If the issue is that [the Chinese] are not part of that global security environment, then I think we have to be concerned about [Chinese aircraft carriers],” Locklear said.
India is another rising world power and Pacom is working closely with the government there to cement the military relationship between the world’s two largest democracies.
“We very much support India taking a leadership in the security issues in and around the Indian Ocean,” the admiral said. “We are looking for opportunities to participate and interoperate with them where we can.”