Resilience and the Asia-Pacific Rebalance

As delivered by Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander U.S. Pacific Command

U.S. Indonesia Society, 08 February 2013

Thank you for that warm welcome and a special thanks to Ambassador David Merrill and the U.S. Indonesia Society for sponsoring this event and the work they do to further U.S. Indonesia relations.

On behalf of the United States, I want to convey our sincere condolences for the tragic loss of life in the floods two weeks ago.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones as they demonstrate their resolve to reclaim their lives. 

Indonesia’s emergence in the face of great challenges is remarkable and heartening.  I continue to marvel at the resiliency of this large, vibrant democracy.

Let me begin with my observations after nearly one year as the US PACOM commander… 

As I travel throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific, I don’t think of it as a "region."

To me, the term "region" tends to over-simplify and under-represent the size, complexity, and diversity of the opportunities, as well as the significant security challenges that we face today and in the future.

The Indo-Asia-Pacific stretches from California to India. It encompasses over half the earth’s surface and well over half of its population – 60% by 2018.

The Pacific Ocean itself is the largest physical feature on the planet.  If all the world’s landmasses were placed in the Pacific, there would still be room left over for an additional Africa, Canada, United States, and Mexico. 

It is incredibly culturally, socially, economically, and geo-politically diverse. 

The many nations who associate themselves here include five of our Nation’s seven treaty allies, the three largest economies in the world, and seven of the ten smallest.

The most populous nations in the world are also represented, which also include the 1st, 2nd and 3rd largest democracies; and the world’s smallest republic. 

Asia is the engine that drives the global economy, in fact it could be called the global (or economic) center of gravity.

Nine of the world’s ten largest ports are in the Asia Pacific. The sea lanes here are the busiest in the world, through which pass over half of the entire world's container cargo every day and over 70% of ship-borne energy flows through as well.

By any meaningful measure, the Asia Pacific is also the most militarized area in the world with seven of the world’s ten largest standing militaries, the world’s largest and most sophisticated navies, and five of the world’s declared nuclear nations.

All these aspects, when you take them together, result in a unique strategic complexity. 

And this complexity is magnified by a wide, diverse group of challenges that can, if not managed properly, significantly stress the security environment.

I believe it is important to highlight up front just a few examples of what I mean by events that will stress our security environment in the future:

Climate change – where increasingly severe weather patterns and rising sea levels will threaten our peoples and could even threaten the loss of entire nations.

We need sustainable systems that provide fresh water and a dependable food supply.

Along with the inevitable earthquakes and tsunamis that will continue to challenge all of us in very unpredictable ways.

Transnational, non-state threats including pandemics, pirates, terrorists and criminal organizations will continue to challenge us... as will drugs and human trafficking, and of course the continued proliferation of WMD.

Historic and emerging border and territorial disputes will no doubt continue and will stress the security environment.

Access and freedom of action in the shared domains of sea, space and cyberspace will be increasingly challenged.

Instability on the Korean Peninsula will persist as North Korea continues to threaten the regional and global security environment with their nuclear and ballistic missle programs.

The rise of China and India as global economic powers and their emergence as regional military powers will continue.

And finally, one of our challenges that must be addressed is the fact that no single governance mechanism, like NATO, exists in the Asia Pacific to help manage relationships and provide a framework for conflict resolution.

It can be a tough neighborhood with nationalistic tendencies that can split and divide us and can lead to a weak system of security environments. 

The security environment instead consists of a patchwork of interwoven security relationships that have been shaped by history, shared interest, and are increasingly driven by our economic interconnectedness.

These relationships range from historic bilateral alliances to mature and emerging multilateral forums focused on converging interests and security concerns - with those same relationships often struggling to be effective when their member states’ interests diverge.

And as nations become more internally secure they will inevitably shift military resources from internal to external security matters.

They will seek to preserve their own access to the shared domains with prospering nations shifting resources to spend more on military hardware, while others downsize.

The future structure of regional institutions – and whether international relations in the region will be characterized more by conflict, competition, a balance of power, or collective security – is unclear...

But we must work together to create a security environment that is resilient ... and can withstand the inevitable shocks and after-shocks of our complex security environment.

But despite these challenges, we are making progress…the expanding positive example that Indonesia demonstrates in a variety of regional and global forums, notably the G-20 and ASEAN is a testimony to the prominent role that Indonesia plays in pulling together neighboring countries to address security concerns and common interests.

Most of you have most likely heard or read about the U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance.  Although I represent the U.S. military, the Rebalance is not just a security or defense-centered policy.

Just like the U.S. – Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, the Rebalance is intended to encompass all aspects of our government’s efforts, which include diplomatic, economic, and political, as well as military.

There has also been criticism that the Rebalance is a strategy of containment.  This is not the case…it is a strategy of collaboration and cooperation.

The U.S. Rebalance is an intentional effort to reinforce to the people of the Indo-Asia-Pacific that the United States is a Pacific nation, with significant interest here, and that we remain committed to peace and prosperity for all…peace and prosperity that must be underpinned by a resilient security environment.

Since President Yudhoyono proposed a Comprehensive Partnership between Indonesia and the United States in 2008, dramatic strides have been made in our military relations…relationships that are increasingly important to the emerging security environment.

Following a decade of political, economic, and military reform, Indonesia has surfaced as a vibrant democracy, an emerging economy, and a highly competent military power. 

We are working extensively in areas such as maritime security, counter terrorism and disaster risk reduction. 

One of the finest examples of our expanding relationship and collaboration includes the effort to combat piracy and other threats to the flow of goods and services through the Strait of Malacca and other strategic choke points. 

Both our nations' ability to work together to keep the sea lanes of communication open and maintain freedom of navigation is paramount. 

With over 17,000 islands and 140 million people who reside in coastal areas, Indonesia has a national identity with the maritime domain.

The Tri-Border Initiative, made the local maritime commons more open and secure and demonstrated Indonesia’s commitment and leadership to multilateral solutions.  

In September this year, the United States and Indonesia will be facilitating a strategic level multilateral table-top Exercise for the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus).

This exercise will be designed to identify political issues and the gaps generated across agencies and ministries given a practical scenario. 

Because of our ongoing collaboration in counter terrorism,  Indonesia and the U.S. were designated co-chairs for both Asia Pacific Intelligence Chiefs Conference and the Experts Working Group for the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus in 2014.  Another testimony to our deepening relationship. 

Another area where Indonesia is playing a role is mediating between disparate groups regarding nonproliferation. 

After signing an agreement with the United States in November 2004 on nuclear safeguards and working extensively on the IAEA’s additional protocols, Indonesia is now a recognized leader in the global nonproliferation effort.

As Indonesia’s capabilities grow, the Indonesian military should also build on its tradition of contributing forces to U.N. peacekeeping operations…yet another area where the Indonesian and American militaries  can collaborate more closely to increase the level of interoperability between our forces. 

While resilience in the security environment is traditionally understood as the ability to recover from a crisis, using the term in the context of national security expands its meaning to include crisis prevention.

With large populations vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, both our nations have a significant interest in improving our ability to quickly respond and mitigate the ongoing risk these threats bring. 

We learned how local communities prepare themselves for the inevitable disruptions are critical to the region’s efforts to maintain peace, security and prosperity. 
This means working on disaster response alone is no longer the answer for the types of scenarios that we face. 

Disaster risk reduction through mitigation, planning, and recovery that starts at the community level is required if we are to create more resilient societies.  

Private businesses and communities must look within and beyond their current capabilities to ensure that they are prepared to handle what may occur as a result of some catastrophe. 

At the national level, the emphasis on resilience highlights the necessity for forging relationships and developing protocols for dealing with shared risks between and among the nations of the Indo-Asia-Pacific. 

Simply stated:"Communities that are most able to manage the risks associated with a significant crisis and bounce back quickly are the places that people will want to live, work and invest for the future."

USPACOM will continue to work with the Indonesian government and ASEAN to help develop a more robust capacity through our exercise programs, civil-military operations, and our public private partnerships. 

Since 2005, military to military relations have proven to be a one of the strongest connections between our two nations. 

The result has been improved interoperability and increased professional contact.  

As we move forward with the Comprehensive Partnership, we should seek to expand our military-education exchanges, increase language training and modernize technology.

So in closing... If there is one thing that I would have you take away from our time together this morning it would be this:

"The Pacific Ocean does not separate the United States from Indonesia; it connects us."

The U.S. Rebalance is all about learning from the challenges of the past, and adapting for a prosperous future.

We desire to achieve a balance in our engagements and relationships by focusing on how we positively impact and reinforce a more secure and prosperous Indo- Asia-Pacific.  

Again, it has been a real honor being here; thank you for listening; I look forward to your questions.

— USPACOM (posted February 08, 2013) —