Pacific commander lauds policy shift
WASHINGTON, Feb 28, 2012 (Menafn - UPI via COMTEX) --America's strategy shift toward the Asia-Pacific will help address security challenges in the region whose nations have welcomed it, the area commander said.
Speaking to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on budget priorities Tuesday, Navy Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said the strategy shift is also designed solidify longstanding partnerships and build on newer ones, the Defense Department reported on its Web site.
The admiral, who will soon be retiring, noted the Pacific Command covers half the globe and includes 36 nations, many among great national powers such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand.
The command is also advancing important relations with India and throughout Southeast Asia.
Willard cited the command's work during Japan's earthquake and tsunami devastation last year as an example of its ability for quick and solid response during difficult situations.
Willard said one of the needs of the U.S. military in the Pacific region is maritime security and access as about 5.3 trillion in commerce flows through the South China Sea, much of belonging to the United States.
Willard noted North Korea's threat to the region's stability, saying there is no indication its new leader Kim Jong Un will change from the totalitarian leadership of his late father Kim Jong Il.
The admiral said China "continues to be a challenge at many levels," and that military-to-military relations, while progressing, "are not what they should be" with Beijing. He said China's army "is advancing capabilities at an impressive rate," and continues to challenge other Pacific nations in the sea, air and space.
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