Australian Defense Minister, Rumsfeld Meet in Singapore
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
SINGAPORE, June 5, 2004 The United States will maintain its capability in the Pacific region, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today, and Australia's defense minister said his country is satisfied with letting the United States decide how to do that.
The two defense leaders met with reporters after their bilateral meeting. Both are here for the annual Pacific security conference known as the "Shangri-la Dialog," sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Rumsfeld said the guiding principles behind the pursuit of changes in how the United States positions its forces globally are basing its troops only where they're wanted and shifting from a static, mass-defense posture to a more agile and capable one built for 21st century threats.
"If you think about it," he said, "some of our forces are kind of where they were left over from the Cold War, where it was reasonably easy to know where a threat might come from," he said. "Today, a threat can come from any number of directions, so we need to have the flexibility and the agility to do that."
Australian Defense Minister Sen. Robert Hill said the United States has kept his government well informed of its thoughts as it seeks to reshape its global force posture. "Our interest has been that U.S. capabilities remain," he said. "They can be provided in a different way now than was once the case. Provided that the force-protection capabilities there can continue to contribute to peace and stability in the region, then we're satisfied.
"It's not for us to tell the U.S. how to do it," he continued. "But if there are ways in which we can assist, then we want to, because while the global superpower obviously takes a primary responsibility, in this day and age we recognize that the U.S. can't do everything by itself, and it's important for other states that share its values to play their part and carry a fair share of the load as well."
Rumsfeld said he and Hill had a "good discussion" on relationships between the two countries, their cooperation in the global war on terror and in counterproliferation efforts, and both countries' activities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Both of our countries have suffered losses to terrorist actions," Rumsfeld said, "and we certainly share a common interest in bringing all elements of national power to bear on the very difficult problem for the civilized world."