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Admiral Phil Davidson Interview, Halifax International Security Forum

By ADM Phil Davidson | U.S. Indo-Pacific Command | Nov. 27, 2019

ADM Phil Davidson
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

Admiral Phil Davidson Interviews, Halifax International Security Forum
Nova Scotia, Canada

23 November 2019

 

Lyse Doucet Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure that you know, especially veterans of the Halifax forum, you are now in the friendliest, nicest part of Canada. It's my part of the world. And when we say good morning in the Maritimes, we expect to hear:

Lyse Doucet Good morning. Welcome. What a way to begin day two of the Halifax forum with the strongest of signals to Hong Kong, to China, to all of us that the world is watching. And a strong signal yesterday from Peter von Prague, the president of the Halifax forum, of the launching of the China initiative, the emphasis on a need for a comprehensive strategy to take on the rise and rise of China. We no longer talk, ladies and gentlemen, in the world about the West and the rest. Now the focus is on China. For some, it's an adversary. For others, it is an ally. It is a relationship as all of you know that is fraught with risks, rewards and rivalries. And when the going gets tough, the tough reach back in history. All that talk of a new Cold War. Is it? Peut-être, peut-être pas. Ladies and gentlemen, we are sailing through troubled waters in the world, but fear not. Here in Halifax, a very seasoned sailor has sailed into Halifax Harbour, and Admiral, with 40 years of service in the U.S. Navy, actually, to be precise, 37 years, hashtag "facts matter."

Admiral Phil Davidson has been the former commander of the Forces Fleet Command, the former commander of the Northern Command. And now he's the 25th commander of the Indo-Pacific Command. As you know, it used to be called the Asia Pacific region. And now it has been recalibrated to reflect the new geopolitics of the region. I heard a U.S. official calling it "from Hollywood to Bollywood." I can't make sense of that. But if they're going to say "Hollywood to Bollywood," let's add Halifax as well to the Indo-Pacific connect. Welcome to Halifax, Admiral Davidson, it's very good to have you here.

Admiral Phil Davidson Thank you very much, Lyse, and "Hollywood to Bollywood" only describes the east-to-west connection. It's actually polar bears to penguins...

Lyse Doucet Oh, okay. Well, since you're in Halifax, you should say beavers as well. And why not? It's very good to have you here. And I think everyone here is very keen to hear what you have to say. But let us not lose the very powerful thread that we began this morning with, which is a focus on Emily Lau who said, and on Hong Kong and on the John McCain prize, Emily Lau tells us that she feels secure. When you look at Hong Kong from the prism of where you stand as the commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, what's happening in Hong Kong? What are the long term strategic implications for the relationship between the United States and China?

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, first, a very moving ceremony this morning, there's no doubt, and if anybody should take any message away from that, I think it should be that freedom is worth defending. And I think that that's what my role is in the Indo-Pacific as well. What we're seeing in the region, of course, is people's economic interests, their shared security concerns, and of course, Western values are highly valued and want to be there.
So the United States has been advancing a vision called the "free and open Indo-Pacific" during the course of the last year and a half or so. And it was most recently addressed by Vice President Pence, just last month. And I think some of the challenges that you're seeing in Hong Kong today are reflective of the attributes and the values that are presented in that free and open vision; that nations in the region want free societies, freely elected officials, and the freedom to protect their own sovereignty and feel like they're free from coercion. They also want open access to seas and airways so that the global markets can move, absolutely.

But they also want transparent agreements between nations in an economic sense, certainly, as well as the protection of intellectual property rights and those kind of attributes as well. I think it's the role of the Indo-Pacific Command within the military space to help advance that vision for the whole of the region.

Lyse Doucet We've heard from, since you know that the hand of history is heavy on all of these crises and the region, the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in Beijing this week. And he talked about the region now being in the--to use his phrase--in the foothills of a Cold War, a new Cold War. Is that how you see this present moment? Is that the term that you would use?

Admiral Phil Davidson No, I don't think it's a new Cold War at all. I think part of the vision is inclusive, really, of all nations that are willing to abide by the free and open concepts. And I would say that China is certainly welcome to participate in that vision. One of the things that stands out to me is that our values, Western values, are hugely competitive in the region. People speak quite often that some of the pernicious means in which China applies its economic vehicles, you know, really non-viable financial loans, corruption behind the scenes, projects that don't seem to have any sense of sustainability. People ask us, well, can you compete with that economically? I think one of the key indicators you might take away from this week was in Tuvalu. So Tuvalu is a very small Pacific island chain nation, with a GDP of about $40 million. China has offered them $400 million to build some artificial islands. And Tuvalu is so concerned about issues like Hong Kong and others, they have rejected 10 times the amount of their GDP because they do not want to be subject to the kind of coercion that might come with those vehicles.

Lyse Doucet But how big are the risks in this relationship, even if, you have said today and you've said elsewhere, that this is not a new Cold War, which of course is very belligerent kind of term, a sense that we are on different sides of the equation. You have said you want China to be part of the rules-based international order. When you look at the threat barometer, how high is it when you see what's happening in Hong Kong, in a month there's going to be elections in Taiwan? So there's some nervousness there. How high- what is the risk level?

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, I think the whole world is watching this quite closely, right? Hong Kong is an international city. There's 100,000 Americans there, 100,000 British, 25,000 Japanese, 30,000 Australians. It's a city that is steeped in freedom and liberty. So people around the world are watching to make sure that there is no violence [certainly?] committed there. My obligation as Indo-Pacific Command, the commander, would be to help assist any U.S. citizens that might require leaving there.

Lyse Doucet Are you worried? We heard of-Emily Lau seems to be worried, especially after she met a friend from Tibet last night. She's very worried because she feels secure in this lovely room in Halifax. When she goes back to the region she may not feel so secure. What would you say to her?
Admiral Phil Davidson I think you've seen some of the evidence play out on TV over the last couple of weeks, certainly what's been happening at the Polytechnic University. I'm concerned about that. I think everybody on the planet is.

Lyse Doucet And your allies in this vast arc, the Indo-Pacific region, there worried too, especially the smaller neighbors of China, you, as you know, the Department of Defense just came out with a new Indo-Pacific strategy review. Very strong words. This is the most consequential region for the United States. But I think your allies are saying "words are great; strategy is better." What resources, what means is the United States going to put behind these words to make the region feel more secure?

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, it's no secret that the Secretary of Defense was traveling in the region just over the last 10 days, and he made clear that the Indo-Pacific was his priority region as he thinks about the globe going forward. I think the force levels that I enjoy in the Indo- Pacific are reflective of that as well. But I would say that the nation, the United States, is focused on this.

One of the most important strategic things that has happened in the last year and a half is the passage of the BUILD Act, which is really going to free private enterprise to bring U.S. resources, and the weight of U.S. business to Southeast Asia, really, indeed across the whole Indo-Pacific to help clarify U.S. interest in the region and deliver to everyone the understanding that 50% of the world's population is centered around a region that begins in Southeast Asia. The world's economy is shifting in a way, that 10 years from now, more than 60% of the economic strength of the globe will be centered in that area. It's critically important for the United States, for Canada, certainly, our allies and partners around the region, to have the understanding that the $3 trillion worth of goods, the trillions of dollars in financial services, that move for the cables under the sea and the South China Sea and through the Indian Ocean, that that is not going to be checked up in a way that strangles the global economy. The connective piece with all that is our values and how important it is that free nations would be able to take advantage of that global economy.

Lyse Doucet And that complicates your job. If this was decades earlier, in the Cold War, you could perhaps look at it in a more security prism and talk about containment. A lot of nations don't want to contain China. They want China to be part of the economic order that presents huge opportunities for many nations. You've seen the "One Belt, One Road" initiative and [Asians?] are queuing up, or do at least they were, to be part of the loans on offer, the opportunities on offer. So how do you balance that risk and rewards from where you sit?
Admiral Phil Davidson Yes, it demonstrates the complexity of the region, absolutely. By no means are we trying to contain China. That's not the intent of the United States, and I don't think that's what any of our allies or partners want in the region as well. They do want fair and equitable trade when it comes to China. And there are some challenges that exist there. If China is trying to coerce others behind the scenes, either in the diplomatic sense or through military power in the region, militarization of features in the South China Sea, etc., while at the same time making cyber intrusions, stealing intellectual property rights. Senator Risch, just yesterday, talked about in here, one of the companies from his home state being sued by China, after all of their intellectual property was seized. People want protections from that kind of thing. But China has got to behave in the global system in a fair and equitable manner.

 

Lyse Doucet What if China doesn't listen? The rise and rise of China, whether it be in you know, the Huawei technology, whether it be in the trading relationships, whether it be in the South China Sea, where for years, the United States and others have said that China cannot take possession of these islands, and yet we've seen year on year, the militarization of these islands and the South China Sea, that China de facto controls them and again, your allies in the region say, words are great, but the realities on the ground are different. And China's saying "back off, America?"

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, it's clear that it's in everyone's interest for the South China Sea to be the free and open waterway that history has intended for it. It is the commitment of the United States. And I would say a commitment of a number of allies and partners who have helped us in that region assert those international rights to that waterway. That includes Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, India--they've all either sailed through that area independently, exercised with each other, or others, or exercise with us. And we've been strongly encouraging the ASEAN nations to be committed to operations in the South China Sea as well.

Which brings me to one of the things that that China is doing in the region. They're trying to come to a code of conduct agreement with the ASEAN nations. One of the things we've been encouraging ASEAN to do is to make sure that that is not a restrictive code of conduct that would limit their ability to operate in the South China Sea, their ability to choose who they might want to operate with in the South China Sea, and in any way, cede the international rights that have been afforded to them.

Lyse Doucet Because indeed, the code of conduct that's part of this, this phrase, it's often used "the centrality of ASEAN," which, and if you read the fine print, it excludes military exercises with outside parties. So many see it as a way to try to keep the United States out of the region. And again, smaller neighbors sometimes have no choice in their relationship, they can stand up to The Great Giant of China.

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, the United States has made clear that ASEAN is central to our approach of a free and open Indo-Pacific. And we're there to help and advise ASEAN and the presence of the United States Navy and other U.S. armed forces help preserve the freedom of the seas that give them the confidence in this discussion.
Lyse Doucet But when the trend in the South China Sea seems to be in the opposite direction, I don't know what you see on your radar and your intelligence gathering, at a certain point [to?] those United States, how forceful are we going to be [this?]? We don't want to risk a provocation with China. As Russia says to NATO: "don't mess in our backyard." That China says, "excuse me, this is our backyard. The United States has no business here." And the United States says we have to pick our battles.

Admiral Phil Davidson Not quite clear what you're getting at here...

Lyse Doucet --is that China is increasingly dominant in the South China Seas. That seems to be the reality, unless you're seeing something different.

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah, there's no question that they've militarized some features there back in the 2015 to 2016/2017 timeframe. But the U.S. has stepped up the operations there. Secretary of Defense Esper just talked about that while he was in the region recently. And we will maintain our position and our operations in the South China Sea to preserve the international access to that waterway.

Lyse Doucet And the other message which seemed to come out from your recent review is a phrase that's used in the NATO theater, which is "burden sharing," that you also want your allies in the Indo-Pacific region to also step up. Is that a message that you've also been transmitting, making it clear to your allies that America expects others to take up their responsibilities, both financially and otherwise?

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, this is where I feel extraordinarily well supported. I made comments on some of the nations who have been conducting operations in the South China Sea. They've also been helping the United States and Japan, the Republic of Korea enforced UN sanctions against North Korea, with the illegal ship-to-ship transfer of refined petroleum into North Korea as well, where the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan and Korea and the United States have all been working cooperatively with people, with maritime patrol aircraft, and/or with ships over time to help enforce those rules. So I feel well supported by my allies in the region, Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, of course, the Philippines and Thailand.

Lyse Doucet And of course, it's not just China and the South China Sea. There are other risks in that region. You have identified North Korea as the most immediate threat, the biggest, immediate threat. How would you describe that threat now?

Admiral Phil Davidson I would still maintain that, I would say that until we get the final fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, it will remain the most immediate threat within the Pacific. We're hoping for negotiation - another encounter at the working level here before the end of the year. And I've been making sure in partnership with General Abrams, our U.S. Forces Korea commander that's on the ground there in Korea, to help maintain the readiness of our forces, in case that readiness was ever needed.

Lyse Doucet And do you see any strong signals that North Korea is moving in the direction that you and its neighbors wanted to move in?
Admiral Phil Davidson Well, certainly over the last several months, you've seen North Korea continue to test some short-range missiles in the theater. There has been some I think political signaling from KJU that if he's not satisfied with the direction of negotiations during the remainder of this calendar year, that he might consider a new path. I think that's an important signal for General Abrams, myself, the Republic of Korea to maintain the readiness of our forces and be prepared for anything that might come.

Lyse Doucet So that is a threat that's growing. Despite the symmetry which seemed to initially help to reduce the risk, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. That immediate military action seems to be off the agenda. But now with the passage of time, it seems to be going back in the opposite direction.

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, I have to be quite practical about this. I mean, there's no mistake that he's continued to test the missiles here over the last several months. And there's no doubt in my mind that they haven't continued development of other systems in the background. We have to be prepared for that.

Lyse Doucet And finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't look at the Indo side of the Indo-Pacific: India as well. Major Asian giant, determined to have its say in the security, every aspect of relationships in the region. U.S.-India cooperation, access to defense technology is at its highest level. Where will it go from here?

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, you know, India is very proud of its not aligned policy. But I think, for the United States, I won't speak for other nations here. But I think for free nations, everybody would want a nation of 1.3 billion people that's a democracy on their side. I think it's the key strategic opportunity for the United States going forward. Last year, we did come to an agreement called a Comcasa. That has enabled us to expand our cooperation and a little bit of collaboration in the operational space with India during the course of the last year and a half. The United States runs a persistent exercise series on the ground, in the air, and at sea with India and with other partners. I look forward to helping advance that.

Lyse Doucet Any concerns about [some?] India, of course, is you say the world's biggest democracy, but concerns are rising, and some of it may be shared here about rising religious intolerance in India, the direction in which the country is going, of course, continuing tensions with Pakistan, in the same way that you have to look at the full dimension when you look at Hong Kong and China. When you look at India, you also see other risks on the horizon that will raise the tensions that will be of security concerns to you.

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah, well, I think you're speaking to the complexity of not only my region, but really the total globe right now, going forward. But the thing I keep coming back to, certainly, when we're speaking about our interests in America is the values that are behind it, right? And I think those values are well described in the vision for free and open Indo-Pacific, and we welcome the nations to participate.

Lyse Doucet Because of course, the mantra from the United States is America first. And that makes your allies a bit nervous in the sense of, can there be an alignment of interests when United States, so whether it comes to trade or security or burden sharing, the United States has to be first and allies are questioning how that relationship will work?

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah, I mean, I can certainly, if I were to give you a count just of U.S. Navy ships alone, that are arrayed across the Indo-Pacific region today, our engagement with the rest of the world continues. And in order to advance this vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, when I interact with my counterparts around the region, they know the United States is there.

Lyse Doucet And when you talk to people back home, when you go back to Missouri, why does that particular command matter to the people of the United States?

Admiral Phil Davidson Well, again, I think one of the key things that all Americans can relate to is the importance of the global economy and the access to those markets around the globe. And they know that United States Armed Forces helps support the freedom of those seas and airways. And I would say that includes space as well. So that the information, whether it's financial or actual goods that are transmitted by air or over the seas is allowed to flow. And I think the people in Missouri are concerned about that, too.

Lyse Doucet But let's hear a little bit about what some of the concerns in the audience--and we only have time for a few questions--and there's two gentlemen sitting together, they must have been scheming about what their questions were going to be: one from east, and one from west. Okay, I think we have some roving microphones that will take those two questions.

Andrew Duncan Hi, General, there's 90 million--

Lyse Doucet Please identify yourself.

Andrew Duncan Andrew Duncan, I'm a film producer. There's 90 million Chinese Communist Party members out of the 1.4 billion people in China. And the Pentagon has come out with a report that it's up to 3 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. How come containment isn't part of the strategy? And my second question is how much of the U.S. Naval budget is in the South China Sea right now? Thank you.

Admiral Phil Davidson To the first question, I would say containment is not in the strategy because of the complexity of the global economy, one. The United States, and really, even China, the prosperity that has been advanced over the course of the last 70 years has been reflective of the security in many respects that has been delivered by U.S. Armed Forces around the world to create that global economy going forward, makes it quite difficult. There's no doubt in my mind that people around the world are watching the situation or like the Uyghurs that have been cast in the concentration camps there in Xinxiang, and aren't going to tolerate it going forward. And we should continue to call out China's behavior as abhorrent to the idea of the freedoms that we've all fought for over the course, certainly, of the history of my country, but I would say to many of the nations that are here at the conference, it's in their interest as well. To your point about a budget number, I couldn't give it to you in dollars.

But the Secretary talked about the increase that we've had in operations in the South China Sea, for example. We've run a number of exercises, they are just in the September/October timeframe. And I think you saw on the news here, just this past week, we conducted two freedom of navigation operations, which are a specific operation just in the last week or so. And our presence will maintain there and continue to pick up as our access to the region, basing in, excuse me, a rotational access into Singapore. And our continued basing in Japan allows.

Lyse Doucet I always like to get a sense of what the mood in the room is. Someone's brought up the "C" word: containment. How many in the room believe that there should be a policy, I mean, a new 2019 policy of containment vis-a-vis China? Oh, 1, 2, 3. Okay. Are these all your friends? Yes, please.

Male Voice 1 Good morning, Admiral Davison. My name is [Luke G?], I'm a former Vice Minister of Defense for international affairs of Japan. Thank you very much for your very wonderful and strong remarks. I have a question about the missiles of China and North Korea. China has a lot of intermediate range missiles--2,000--and most of them would be against the INF code if China is a member of the INF and China is reluctant to participate in the arms control negotiations. On the other hand, North Korea would be interested in participating in the arms control negotiation because North Korea would like to be regarded as a legitimate nuclear power. So, you know, could you tell us how to manage those issues? I mean, the arms control of intermediate range missiles in the Asia-Pacific and also, do you have a--

Lyse Doucet I think that's quite a big question already for the Admiral. Thank you for it. Quite a complex one.

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah. Thank you for the question. Yes. We estimate that some 95% of China's land-based ballistic missiles and other threats would be in violation of the INF Treaty, if China were indeed a party to that treaty. I think it's quite threatening to the region. There's no doubt that China continues to advance their technology when it comes to ballistic missiles into now, the potential for hypersonics into the future. And it has me concerned, really across the region, but I would say, the fault line in the rules-based international order that exists right at this moment runs along that first island chain. That's going to require the United States to invest in long-range precision fires to prevent a counter-deterrent to the threat that's being presented I believe in the region. We have other capabilities in the near term that will help us bridge seaborne, airborne, and land-based assets to support that deterrent strategy, but all of us need to continue to advance missile defenses as well.

Lyse Doucet Okay. Just a minute, there was a question back there and then here. Yeah. Okay. It's going to take two questions this gentleman here and then yes, how many? So the second row here, the third or other and then way in the back.

Szu-chien Hsu Excuse me, my name is. My name is Szu-chien Hsu. I'm the deputy foreign minister from Taiwan. Admiral Davidson, nice to meet you again. I have a question regarding, relevant to the previous one, I believe you are aware that the Chinese military has been conducting various kinds of maneuver around Taiwan, not only to the west, but also to the east of Taiwan. Do you think those maneuvers constitute any threats to the not only the first island chain that you mentioned, but also to the second island chain and also do you consider those maneuvers as threats to the upcoming election in Taiwan in January 11, for our president and our legislators. Recently--

Lyse Doucet Okay, thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. But thank you for mentioning Taiwan. Now. I think we're, we have a bit of time in hand. I think we're okay, to, Admiral, you're happy to take...?

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah.

Lyse Doucet Yeah.

Admiral Phil Davidson Thank you for your question. I mean, there's no doubt that China's operations, whether their air forces, their seaborne forces, and their land forces have been expanding over the course of time. Beyond the first island chain, beyond indeed, even the second island chain, the Chinese have been operating naval forces around Africa, in Europe, around South America, it goes on and on. In fact, we've seen more deployments just in the sea space with their navy in the last 30 months than we'd seen around the globe, then we had seen from China in the previous 30 years. So that should give everybody kind of an understanding of the rate at which it's advancing. I think every nation on the planet is watching free elections around the world as they go forward with the understanding of some of the pernicious activity that has been happening in the information space from state actors like Russia and others from non-state actors around the globe, I think everybody is watching for that and should be concerned about that. I think that presents an obligation to free nations around the world as well to start protecting those cyber spaces, as well as their information space as best they can also. Thank you.

Lyse Doucet We'll take one last [Menominee?] Yeah, in this second row please.

Male Voice 2 Thank you. As the commander of the Indo-Pacific, you must be watching the relationship between India and Pakistan and recently India has taken unilateral measures in Kashmir, and the relationship between the two countries is going down because of the strong Hindu nationalist position of India, the terrorist attacks from Pakistan. And so there are risk of the relationship between the two countries and beyond for them in the future of Pakistan. [Man,?] what do you think, the United States do in that respect?

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah, we've continued to encourage both India and Pakistan to dialogue here to help ensure that there's no violence going forward. There's no doubt about it. It's a key issue between India and Pakistan. We'll continue to remain engaged with both nations to help maintain peace in that area. Thank you.

Lyse Doucet And [just maybe?] finally one comment from [Yama,?] Davidson is that it is something that will be discussed in conferences like this where the nature of security challenges are changing so fast, we have artificial intelligence now which is regarded as a security threat. But also, climate change, climate crisis is also regarded as a security threat. You mentioned some of the chains of the Pacific Islands, which are, of course, very, very vulnerable to the risk. And that's something else. So you when you look at the tasks that face you as the commander of the Indo-Pacific region, it's a much bigger horizon that you have to look at in terms of the new challenges in the world in which we live.


Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah, no, helping other nations, helping our own nation in the event of disaster relief, in the wake of a natural disaster, or a humanitarian assistance crisis, we do that all across the region. You know, certainly bridging one of the key examples is Indonesia with Operation [Sea Angel?] back in the 2004 timeframe, but I'll tell you just in the last 12 months, we were engaged with active duty forces for nearly six months on the island of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Marianas in the wake of a 500-year storm that they had there to help clear debris and restore services there in the area. It shows kind of the tender status of some of these very small nations in the region and while it was a United States, FEMA, Federal Emergency Management activity, Agency responsibility to help manage the commonwealth, they were engaged in the United States to the extent that they couldn't provide support nor could contract support come to play. So we actually filled that gap.

There's another thing that we do as well. I actually have a center for excellence associated with my headquarters in disaster management. It helps us train U.S. military officers and enlisted, as well as U.S. governmental and non-governmental employees and how to manage and, in military speak, command and control, disaster relief operations. We extend that training all across the region, to governments and to private citizens that might be called upon by governments to support these things. We'll continue to do that kind of activity going forward. It's one of the things that the whole of the region, [but?] the Pacific island chain nations embraced warmly because of the need.

Lyse Doucet I don't need to tell you that we live in deeply, deeply unpredictable and uncertain times, whether it's the climate crisis, but even in terms of military actions, not the focus of this region, but of course, there's been a lot of concern to what's happening in the Persian or Arabian Gulf, depending which way you look at it. New tensions there. We've heard the concerns about Hong Kong. We've heard the concerns about Taiwan today. As the commander, where is the barometer in terms of the risk of a military conflict, if you look ahead to the next year, is there a real risk or is it just politician and activists who really worry about that?

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah, I won't comment in public on the risks there. But you know, I think there's good reason that I'm employed.

Lyse Doucet Maybe, maybe that is a sign that there is a risk if you don't have [fun.?] Sometimes it's what we don't say [what??] So it's not something we should take lightly, let us say.

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah.
Lyse Doucet Yeah.

Admiral Phil Davidson But the message has come up in the presentation of the McCain prize this morning, right?

Lyse Doucet Yes.

Admiral Phil Davidson Freedom is worth defending. And it's being challenged really around the globe. And that requires not just the United States, but our network of allies and partners that are interested in preserving that freedom to come together and help support the international order that has done so much to maintain peace, to lift millions out of poverty, and deliver a lot of prosperity over the course of the last 70 years or so.

Lyse Doucet And it's hard. I don't think there's any commander who doesn't always want to look for more resources to carry out their command. We've heard about this "pivot to Asia" in one administration after the next, now that you have this Indo-Pacific strategy review, I think your allies are saying is this truly a pivot to Asia? Do you see on the horizon that there will be more resources, more attention, more presence of the United States politically, militarily in that region? Or is it going to be much of the same, but just managing the resources that you have now?

Admiral Phil Davidson Again.

Lyse Doucet [the matter?]

Admiral Phil Davidson Yeah, I have to go back to the Secretary's comments across the region here in the last 10 days, he's made quite clear that the Indo-Pacific is the priority region. We're in the budget throws right now in the United States, and I'm feeling like we're having a good conversation about it. I don't want to preempt the Secretary's equities on this and his dialogue with the Congress. But certainly, he's been receptive to the inputs that he's been hearing from me and my component commanders.

Lyse Doucet Admiral Davidson, thank you very much for being with us at the Halifax forum, please.
Admiral Phil Davidson Thank you. Thank you very much.

 

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