Dempsey Emphasizes ‘Long Game,’ Teamwork in Tokyo Visit
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
TOKYO, Apr. 26, 2013 In a speech today at Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies here, the United States’ senior military officer talked about America’s military, its alliances, its Asia-Pacific strategy and baseball.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed faculty and students at the equivalent of America’s National Defense University during the last full day of an Asia trip that also included visits to South Korea and China.
Dempsey has emphasized assurance throughout his weeklong travels, and he repeated that message today.
“I want to take a few moments to assure you,” he told his Japanese audience, “to remove any doubt about the strength and the sustainability of America’s military, and our alliance, and our Asia–Pacific strategy.”
America is not returning to the region, Dempsey said, noting that the U.S. never left the Asia-Pacific region. He pointed out that the first Japanese commercial ship to reach America docked in San Francisco in 1872, the same year Civil War veteran Horace Wilson introduced baseball to Japan.
“Baseball fans know that a team’s standing only a few weeks after opening day is not a good indicator of its post-season success,” Dempsey said. He added that baseball is a long game that involves strategy, requires talent and teamwork, and values hard work and fair play.
America and its allies need all of those qualities and more, the chairman said, as threats “can manifest themselves in a backpack or on a laptop, [and] advanced weapons are now in the hands of irresponsible regimes.”
The trends of broadening threats and lowered defense spending have led many “to question whether the United States can remain a global leader and a reliable partner,” Dempsey said. “I assure you that we can, and I know that we must. Let me tell you why.”
America’s military is strong and sustainable, he said, and is in a position of strength as it prepares to transition from a wartime footing.
“Our capabilities are without rival, and we are on the leading edge of most every area, including cyber,” the chairman said.
The U.S. military’s global presence includes hundreds of ships at sea, and the nation can project power at will, he added. “Witness our recent B-2 mission to South Korea, intended to assure our allies and deter North Korea,” Dempsey noted.
“Like the Japanese Self Defense Forces, our decisive advantage is our people,” he said. “Our men and women in uniform have proven their resilience [and] their courage, and demonstrated their mettle. They’re smart, dynamic leaders who give us all confidence in our future.”
Second, America’s alliances are strong and growing stronger, he said. “We cannot and do not underestimate their value,” Dempsey added. “As we know from baseball, talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships."
U.S. alliances in the Pacific -- with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand -- are strong partnerships, and the foundation of America’s Asia–Pacific strategy, he said.
“They underpin a growing network of increasingly important trilateral and multilateral relationships and forums,” the chairman added. “When you ally with the United States, you ally with the region.”
Dempsey said such alliances bring capacity, capability and credibility -- what he called the combining force, or aikido -- of U.S. relationships in the Asia-Pacific region.
“It is what gives us the agility to respond to everything from a natural disaster to a dangerous dictator,” he added.
The U.S.–Japanese alliance, with a strong mutual defense treaty and built-in interoperability, exemplifies aikido, he said.
Dempsey said during this visit to Japan, his third as chairman, he and Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the joint staff for Japan’s Self Defense Forces, “affirmed and reaffirmed our alliance.”
He noted that among the issues the two discussed were “the renewed imperative for cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Korea.”
Here Dempsey sounded another note that has resounded throughout his travels this week: North Korea’s provocations, including nuclear launch threats, have moved from a cyclic to a sustained pattern.
“Given the missile threat -- and Kim Jong Un’s reckless rhetoric -- we have no choice but to improve our defenses and accelerate our cooperation,” the general said.
Dempsey noted he raised the same issue with Chinese civilian and military leaders in Beijing earlier this week.
“They should now understand that we can build a relationship with them without compromising on the trust we have with our enduring allies,” he said.
The U.S. strategy of choice for China and the entire region is cooperation, not confrontation, the chairman said, turning to the topic of the U.S. rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific.
“I can understand why some may wonder if the strategy is still feasible -- not just due to less money, but also due to the unrelenting pull of the Middle East,” he acknowledged.
Dempsey said the rebalancing is not only still on, it’s a strategic imperative “born of this region’s emergence as a socio-economic center of gravity for the world.”
“We’re taking a comprehensive approach,” he added. “We’re prioritizing trade and commerce, diplomacy and development,” not just in Northeast Asia, but in Southeast Asia and across the region.
Militarily, he said, the rebalancing is as much about people as things.
“Some of our best quality equipment will come out this way from time to time,” the chairman said. “Just last week, for example, our first littoral combat ship, the USS Freedom, arrived in Singapore for its first regional deployment. But more importantly, our best people will be here all the time.”
Dempsey noted America retains an agile response to world threats.
“We rapidly upgraded our missile defenses in recent weeks,” he said. “Our cooperative response to North Korean threats is a clear demonstration of our will, the strength of our alliances, and our commitment to the region -- a region on the rise and ripe with opportunity.”
The chairman concluded, “We are in the opening innings of our rebalance -- and we look forward to a long and productive season.”