Partnering with the forces of other nations is a hallmark of the American military, and it will be even more important in the future than it is today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said at the Honolulu International Forum that the U.S. military partnering with the militaries of other nations “enhances our allies and partners strengths and reduces our risks.”
With the Rim of the Pacific exercise going on, Dempsey said, this was a perfect time to stress these military-to-military contacts. Twenty-two nations are participating in the exercise, which features 49 ships from the various nations and about 25,000 people taking part.
The maritime exercise will help the Pacific nations work together better in the event of a natural disaster, Dempsey said, noting that about half of the world’s natural disasters happen in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Further stressing the value of partnerships, Dempsey said he had met earlier in the day with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to discuss the common threat posed by North Korea, as well as other regional challenges. “For more than 60 years, our alliances with Japan and South Korea have been the foundation of peace and prosperity in the region,” he said.
The meeting marked the first time that the chiefs of defense from the three countries met together in person in that context, the general noted. “This trilateral engagement reflects our commitment to come together and to leverage converging interests,” he said, adding that the trilateral relationship “is not a matter of opportunity or choice. “It’s an imperative.”
North Korea threatens the region and world, Dempsey said. “As military leaders,” he added, “we have to find ways to continue to collaborate against this threat.”
In certain areas such as ballistic missile defense, Dempsey said, the future “will demand we work together.”
The timing of the trilateral meeting was fortuitous, Dempsey said. In addition to being concurrent with the RIMPAC exercise, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet on the previous day had announced a reinterpretation of Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution that expands its ability to participate in collective self-defense. The trilateral meeting also took place 64 years to the day that Americans began arriving to defend South Korea.
The United States strongly supports collective self-defense, Dempsey said. “The Japanese Self Defense Forces’ ability and willingness to not only protect themselves, but their closest partners … is an important step for the region so those in the region take ownership of their own security,” the chairman said.
The chairman emphasized that building trust among militaries is the most important and powerful component of the military instrument of power.
“Fostering trust belongs to all hands, from our most senior leaders to our newest recruits,” the general said. “Trust is the foundation of the military profession. It’s the glue of our partnerships, and it actually is what holds the environment together.”