"This Strategy defines United States Pacific Command's approach to the Asia-Pacific and reflects our contribution to U.S. efforts to rebalance to the region. In accordance with national guidance, our desired end state is that the Asia-Pacific is secure and prosperous, underpinned by U.S. leadership and a rules-based international order. To this end, we will strengthen alliances and partnerships, maintain an assured presence in the region, and effectively communicate our intent and resolve to safeguard U.S. national interests.
As we work closely with partners across the U.S. government and in the region to address shared challenges and prevent conflict, we will ensure we are ready to respond rapidly and effectively across the full range of military operations. United States Pacific Command is committed to be agile, flexible, and ready to meet the challenges of an uncertain and dynamic security environment."
— Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III
The U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) area of responsibility (AOR) encompasses approximately half the earth's surface and more than half of its population. The 36 nations1 that comprise the Asia-Pacific include: two of the three largest economies and nine of the ten smallest; the most populous nation; the largest democracy; the largest Muslim-majority nation; and the smallest republic in the world. The region is a vital driver of the global economy and includes the world's busiest international sea lanes and nine of the ten largest ports. By any meaningful measure, the Asia-Pacific is also the most militarized region in the world, with seven of the world's ten largest standing militaries and five of the world's declared nuclear nations. Under these circumstances, the strategic complexity facing the region is unique.
This Strategy defines Commander, USPACOM's strategic intent and approach in support of U.S. defense priorities in this region. Proceeding from a hierarchy of national level planning guidance,2 it provides the Command's vision for resourcing in light of national level emphasis on the Asia-Pacific.
This Strategy adheres to several guiding principles. Four principles were articulated by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to elaborate on the President's guidance in January 2012 that the U.S. "will of necessity rebalance to the Asia-Pacific." These and three additional principles appear as consistent themes throughout this document:
Advance a set of rules that are respected and followed by all, highlighting open access to the shared domains of sea, air, space and cyberspace and resolving disputes without coercion or the use of force.
Modernize and strengthen alliances and partnerships.
Enhance and adapt our enduring presence in the region and enable more effective engagement with partners.
Make a sustained series of investments and strategic decisions to strengthen U.S. military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific.
Contribute to U.S. whole-of-government approaches to resolving regional security challenges, and support the broadest possible involvement of regional counterparts.
Ensure U.S. intent and resolve is conveyed clearly and that our words and actions are aligned.
USPACOM is first and foremost a war fighting command, committed to maintaining superiority across the range of military operations in all domains.
These principles help guide the partnership role that the United States has and will continue to play in the Asia-Pacific. This role is solidified geographically and through our alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific. Our enduring interests of open access to the shared domains of sea, air, space, and cyberspace are further amplified by the fact that the Asia-Pacific will be the economic center of trade for the foreseeable future and that continued prosperity is tied to the peaceful rise of China as an economic and military power. Within this context, USPACOM is focused on the following key aspects of the regional security environment.
The United States is and will continue to be a Pacific power. U.S. territory in the USPACOM AOR includes the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We have protectorate obligations with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
This homeland area, coupled with our treaty alliances with Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Philippines, and Thailand are the cornerstone of U.S. engagement in the region. We will modernize and strengthen these alliances by enhancing our ability to train and operate together, jointly developing high-tech capabilities, expanding information sharing, and exploring new areas of cooperation.
In addition to our treaty alliances, we will continue to strengthen existing partnerships and build new relationships, particularly with multilateral constructs such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). India is a particularly important partner in shaping the security environment, and we will continue to deepen our cooperation to address challenges in the Asia-Pacific. We will also work to enhance our partnerships with Indonesia, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and others to advance common interests and address shared threats.
Foremost among our shared interests with other countries and organizations in the region is open access to sea, air, space, and cyberspace domains. This open access ensures the free flow of commerce and economic development. Additionally, new challenges in cyberspace present an opportunity for cooperation with countries and multilateral organizations 3 to strengthen international norms of behavior and encourage cooperative approaches to shared threats. USPACOM will ensure access to these shared domains by working with allies and partners to strengthen international norms of behavior and maintain relevant and interoperable military capabilities in the region.
The United States believes that a strong U.S.-China partnership is essential for peace, prosperity, and both regional and global security. The U.S. continues to welcome a prosperous and successful China that plays a greater role in global affairs, but China's growing military capabilities coupled with its lack of transparency is concerning. Therefore, the United States and China must continue to pursue a more transparent, enduring, stable, and reliable military-to-military relationship by maintaining a consistent and meaningful dialogue to prevent miscommunication or miscalculation. We see opportunities for cooperation in areas such as humanitarian relief and disaster response, counter-piracy efforts, non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs), military medicine, and maritime safety. Such opportunities will enhance our bilateral relationship with China as we work toward common goals, candidly address our differences, and demonstrate mutual commitment to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. regards coercive activities by North Korea, in particular its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities, to comprise the most urgent security threat in the region. USPACOM is fully committed to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula by effectively working with our allies and other regional states to deter and defend against North Korean military provocations, weapons proliferation, and illicit trafficking; and to support enforcement of international sanctions restricting North Korean arms trade and other prohibited activities.
North Korea's ongoing efforts to engage in WMD-related proliferation and arms sales in defiance of UN sanctions make it a primary actor of concern with respect to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In addition, terrorist groups may leverage WMD-related expertise, technologies, dual-use material, and other resources to acquire chemical or biological weapons. This situation requires USPACOM, acting with domestic and foreign partners, to continue to enhance its capabilities to effectively counter the development and proliferation of WMD.
As the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba attacks in Mumbai in 2008 demonstrated, terrorist organizations adapt and persist over time. Violent extremism, terrorist organizations, and transnational crime threaten the good governance of sovereign nations in the Asia-Pacific. Furthermore, illegal trafficking and other criminal activities continue to overlap with terrorism and weapons proliferation, undermining regional security. USPACOM will work as part of the U.S. interagency effort with regional partners to monitor and counter non-state threats and ensure that local governments and communities are inhospitable to violent extremism.
Natural and man-made disasters regularly impact the stability of the Asia-Pacific as a consequence of unstable geological fault lines, annual tropical depressions, and over-burdened coastal environments. Four of the six nations most susceptible to vectoring pandemic influenza are in the Asia-Pacific. When called upon, USPACOM will extend assistance in support of other U.S. government agencies and international organizations, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and support efforts to reduce risk to vulnerable populations.
The U.S. military strategy in the Asia-Pacific focuses on reinforcing our security architecture of alliances and partnerships, including building new partnerships and strengthening multilateral constructs. Reinforcing this strategic foundation is a robust forward presence with assured access in peacetime and crisis, amplified by clear and consistent communication of USPACOM intent and resolve.
As the 2010 National Security Strategy states, "No one nation—no matter how powerful—can meet global challenges alone." The future security and prosperity of the region depends in large part upon building bilateral and multilateral relationships. These strong relationships, facilitated by U.S. forward presence, advance common interests and address shared threats. Key elements of this effort include:
USPACOM will enhance interoperability with allies and partners and develop the capacity of partners to cooperatively address regional challenges. This effort will move beyond traditional relationships to include security cooperation with China and others when there are shared interests and where cooperation can produce mutual benefits.
USPACOM will work with regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and encourage multilateral relationships that build trust, prevent misperceptions that can lead to conflict, and reinforce international norms of conduct.
Senior Leader Engagement
USPACOM will leverage senior leader visits to engender dialogue, build relationships, and convey U.S. commitment to the region.
Cross-Combatant Command Coordination
USPACOM will enhance coordination with other geographic and functional Combatant Commands (CCMDs) on challenges spanning area-of-responsibility boundaries.
Other Government Agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Private Sector Engagement and Coordination
USPACOM will closely coordinate with Federal partners to align defense, diplomacy, and development efforts in the region. USPACOM will also collaborate with NGOs and private industry to advance common interests.
As we build strong relationships, USPACOM will provide assurance of U.S. security commitment to the region. USPACOM forces, including those from outside the theater, will be employed in a manner that signals to the region our enduring security interests and our understanding of the concerns of allies and partners. Key elements of this effort include:
Through enduring and rotational presence, USPACOM will support allies, partners, and U.S. national security interests.
Our force posture and basing structure supports our forward presence, which is key to engaging allies and partners, responding quickly to contingencies, and conveying our resolve. We will leverage our presence to pursue bilateral and multilateral training and exercises that strengthen situational awareness and response capacity, build trust, and promote responsible use of shared domains.
New Systems and Operating Concepts
Crafting new concepts and fielding new systems is fundamental to maintaining a credible deterrence. USPACOM will develop and support new operational concepts and tactics and incorporate them into major exercises.
Addressing Critical Capability Gaps
USPACOM will advocate for platforms, capabilities, and technology that provide a decisive advantage in shaping the strategic environment.
Fundamental to USPACOM's mission is the ability to deter aggression and prevail in crisis. This requires a forward-deployed ready force that can exercise, train, and operate with our partner nations' militaries. USPACOM will set the conditions for success through the above efforts in peacetime and ensure protection of critical defense infrastructure at home and abroad during crisis.
The intent of our strategic communication effort is to align USPACOM words, actions, and images in order to convey our intent and resolve to protect U.S. interests and ensure the region remains stable and secure. To this end, we must communicate clearly with key audiences, including allies, partners, and potential adversaries, in order to reduce the possibility of misunderstanding and miscalculation and to facilitate achievement of our ends.
Maximizing the cumulative effectiveness of our messages requires a deep understanding of a diverse audience, a thorough consideration of potential effects, and consistent and credible delivery through integrated communication plans, coordinated with national-level leadership, subordinate commands, and other stakeholders. We will also be responsive to changes in the information environment as we align our words and actions through the theater campaign.
The focus of our approach on relationships, presence, and communication aims to not only defuse potential problems before they become crises but also set the conditions for success should the use of force become necessary. Particularly in the early phases of conflict, managing crises depends on USPACOM's ability to rapidly and effectively project power when required. USPACOM and subordinate commands must therefore be ready to conduct a seamless transition from peacetime to deter, seize the initiative, dominate, stabilize the situation, and progress to a new steady state that advances U.S. national security interests.
USPACOM protects and defends the United States, its territories, and interests; promotes regional security; deters aggression; and is prepared to respond if deterrence efforts fail. Through strong relationships with allies and partners, assured presence facilitated by balanced, and distributed force posture, and an effective strategic communication effort that clearly and accurately conveys our intent and resolve, USPACOM, in concert with other U.S. government agencies, will ensure U.S. national interests are protected and the Asia-Pacific region is stable and secure.
1. Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, North Korea, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vietnam, Vanuatu.
2. National Security Strategy, 2010 (U); National Defense Strategy, 2012 (U); National Military Strategy, 2011 (U); Quadrennial Defense Review, 2010 (U).
3. The United States is a member of several regional organizations associated with ASEAN, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+)