ADM Phil Davidson
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
The Mt. Fuji Dialogue 2020
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii
24 October 2020
As Prepared for Delivery
Konnichiwa and Aloha.
It is a pleasure to join you today from Hawaii and a great honor to join this discussion.
I offer a warm welcome to all of our distinguished guests gathered either in-person or virtually to discuss the most critical region on the planet.
First, let me begin by extending a heartfelt congratulations to former Prime Minister Abe for receiving the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Under his remarkable leadership, our U.S.-Japan alliance has reached unprecedented heights – rising to historic levels of cooperation diplomatically, economically, and certainly militarily – and we are all incredibly grateful.
More globally, his visionary leadership left a lasting impact on the future of free trade, multilateralism, and the overall security framework, and it has worked to the benefit of all nations.
As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our Mutual Defense Treaty – it is without question that the alliance between our two great nations is stronger now than it has ever been.
I am reminded of 2014, when the United States’ reassured Japan that an attack on the Senkaku Islands would invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty, honoring our 60-plus year commitment to the people of Japan.
This is what friends and allies do. And it stands as a clear pledge to Japan – and to the region – that our bonds in the Indo-Pacific are only growing stronger.
Over the past few days, I had a phenomenal visit to Tokyo where I had the honor of meeting with Prime Minister Suga, and I left assured that our alliance will continue to advance, strengthen, and absolutely continue to thrive.
During my trip, I had the opportunity to meet with Foreign Minister Motegi, Defense Minister Kishi, and General Yamazaki – and during each engagement, the resounding theme was – we are stronger together.
Indeed, our U.S.-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace, prosperity, and security in the region – and this makes it the most crucial alliance in the world for the 21st century.
Before I continue, I want to thank the Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER) and the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) for hosting this year’s Mt. Fuji Dialogue as we persevere in this COVID environment.
The U.S.-Japan Alliance is far too important to pause our discussions – even in times as challenged as these.
To this end, I recently joined various leaders from both Japan and the United States at the Military Statesmen Forum and the JSDF/INDOPACOM Senior Leader Seminar.
And I can assure you that there is incredible alignment on the need to continue to bolster our alliance to meet the dynamic challenges in the region.
The U.S.-Japan Alliance is at the very heart of our vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and is central to upholding the rules-based international order.
First voiced by Prime Minister Abe and then by President Trump – the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision represents a unified voice, upon which, the values of our alliance are built.
Along with the United States and Japan – Australia, New Zealand, India, the U.K., France, Canada, and ASEAN – while under the leadership of Indonesia – have now all put forth similar visions for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
In stark contrast to this free and open vision – the Communist Party of China promotes a drastically different value system – in terms of governance, trade, human rights, sovereignty, and intellectual property protections.
China is intensifying its internal oppression and external aggression. One needs to look no further than Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, the South China Sea, and the Line of Actual Control on the India-China border.
China’s pernicious approach to the region includes a whole-of-party effort to coerce, corrupt, and contest the values embraced by the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision.
An emboldened Communist Party of China seeks to exploit the current global pandemic crisis with increased military aggression and malign activities throughout the Indo-Pacific.
The PLA’s aggressive actions in the East China and South China Seas and provocations throughout the region undermine the rules-based international order.
The Japan Defense Paper 2020 (released last July) clearly calls out China’s bad behavior, “China has relentlessly continued unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion in the sea area around the Senkaku Islands, leading to a matter of grave concern.”
President Xi remarks last week at a military base in southern China, where he told troops to "put all minds and energy on preparing for war" and to “maintain a high state of alert,” reaffirms the Party’s overall malign intent in the region.
This is all part of the Communist Party of China’s campaign to supplant the established rules-based international order with a new order – one where Chinese national power is more important than international law.
Indeed, the Indo-Pacific region is in a strategic competition between Beijing’s closed and authoritarian vision and the idea of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
But I want to make clear, that competition does not mean conflict. We must be doing everything possible to deter conflict, but also prepared to fight and win should competition turn to conflict.
Looking toward the future – our alliance must take action to shape a peaceful and prosperous region.
As many of you have heard me say, the greatest danger we face in the region is the erosion of conventional deterrence vis-à-vis China.
Without an effective, conventional deterrent, China will be emboldened to take action to limit access to the vital seas and airways in the region and threaten or coerce the sovereignty of its neighbors – hence the need for a credible deterrence strategy.
Deterrence is not something you can necessarily measure; however, it proves effective when a likely adversary chooses not to take a provocative action after calculating the gains and consequences of those actions.
Together, those committed to the idea of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific must achieve an advantageous security environment by demonstrating the capability, capacity, and will to deny China’s objectives and – if necessary – to impose costs on their military forces.
In order to accomplish these objectives going forward, there are four key focus areas that guide INDOPACOM’s approach.
First, we must increase Joint and Combined Force lethality.
To adequately deter China, we need highly survivable, precision-strike capability featuring increased quantities of ground-based missiles, as well as our already improved air and maritime long-range naval fires.
These fires must be supported by electronic warfare, space, cyber, and over-the-horizon radar capabilities, and they must be integrated across all domains by an advanced battle management system.
This high-level of lethality requires more than just conducting studies; our situation requires action.
Integrated air and missile defense, capable of 360-degree coverage and the persistent capability to counter maneuvering ballistic missiles, ship launched ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles will become more important to our future and the defense of our allies in the western Pacific.
A system like AEGIS already provides for highly survivable sensing, battle management, and the interceptors to survive even inside the First Island Chain, and it is capable of incorporating and enabling more advanced fires once available.
The second necessary step in advancing our interoperability is the development of a robust Fires Network of sensors that can fuse information from distributed sensors into fire control data.
This would support not only Integrated Air Missile Defense, but also long-range, precision-strike weapons to include the ability to target fires in space and cyber.
In other words, a Fires Network like this will enable any sensor from any platform (air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace) to provide targeting guidance to any weapon.
Some critics might contend that a network like I described is an offensive weapon and could provoke conflict, but the reality is that anti-ship, indeed, anti-force ballistic and cruise missiles are denial systems.
These weapons are to be used to prevent foreign incursions, not to control foreign territory.
We can help protect mainland Japan and the United States’ most western territories by continuing to advance our partnership in I_A_M_D with a network of sensors, weapons, and a battle management system that integrates fires across all domains.
By deploying these capabilities, we increase the likelihood of survivability, complicate our adversaries’ decision-making process, and provide a credible deterrent to assure freedom of action for all like-minded nations.
Second, we must enhance our design and posture.
Our force design and posture in the region must enable the convergence of capabilities from multiple domains and create the virtues of mass without concentration.
This is accomplished by distributing a forward-deployed, joint force across the battlespace's breadth and depth while balancing lethality and survivability.
I am reminded of General Yamazaki’s quote year: “The fault line of the rules-based international order is the First Island Chain.”
The United States values forward-based and rotational joint forces as the most credible way to demonstrate our commitment and resolve to potential adversaries, while simultaneously assuring allies and partners.
Japan’s posture moves should also support the ability to deploy an Integrated Joint Force capable of employing the full spectrum of capabilities across all domains.
Shield / Spear - more integrated – and more coordinated in taking mutually supportive security cooperation actions with other nations in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The third focus area is exercises, experimentation, and innovation – not only between the United States and Japan – but with our other allies and partners as well.
Our alliance has matured to the point where we consistently and routinely conduct exercises and operations related to our mutual defense, emblematic of the trust we place in each other.
We must continue to modernize and expand our exercise program to deliberately integrate experimentation and extensively exercise joint and combined command and control alongside other allies and partners in the region.
The only way to combat the security challenges we face in today’s dynamic operating environment is through a continuous campaign of joint and combined experimentation and high-fidelity, multi-domain training.
Integrating our ranges in the region – along with Australia (and others) – would allow us to advance joint and combined capability and capacity in a fully instrumented live-virtual-constructive proving ground.
An integrated U.S., Japan, and coalition force that regularly demonstrates operations across all domains presents new challenges and dilemmas for potential adversaries.
An area rich for the U.S.-Japan Alliance to pursue – in collaboration with other like-minded nations – is the employment of 5G technology.
5G mobile technology is a conduit for increased international collaboration – the United States and Japan must seize the opportunity to work on this together with other like-minded nations.
And as we develop and field these technologies, we must – absolutely must – focus on the cybersecurity aspects of these networks as well.
We are under constant attack from all types of adversaries – not just China – who are exploiting cyberspace to their advantage to gain access to sensitive information.
Such attacks are routinely conducted against the U.S., our allies, and our partners – many of whom do not even realize the attacks are occurring.
This poses massive security vulnerabilities, which means we must scrupulously secure our systems and networks, requiring us to invest in network infrastructure offering the best value.
Unfortunately, too many governments and industry leaders across the region are focused on achieving the best price for such investments – instead of the best value.
Rarely does the lowest price result in the highest quality – and in this case, the outcome directly threatens national security and regional stability.
That takes me to Huawei – there is no mistake that Huawei offers equipment and improvements to infrastructure at ultra-low costs. But China is not offering this technology for benevolent reasons.
Huawei can potentially be used as an extension of its intelligence service, as well as a point of entry for critical cyber access and control through the One Belt, One Road initiative.
The United States continues to urge our allies around the world to build secure 5G networks that protect our most sensitive infrastructure data – and we are encouraged the U.K., Australia, France, and just this week, Sweden, have all joined the U.S. in banning Huawei – indeed with more nations to follow.
The final focus area is strengthening our allies and partners.
We are increasing interoperability with each other – and in turn – with our allies and partners across the region, to enhance our capabilities and improve our coordination for competition.
This manifests itself in foreign military sales, information sharing agreements, expanding military exercises and operations, and key leader engagements – including security forums just like today.
Our constellation of allies and partners is the backbone of the free and open international order, providing a powerful force to counter malign activity and aggression.
We are focused on strengthening our alliance into an extended network, capable of deterring and decisively acting to meet the shared challenges of our time.
Going forward, the U.S.-Japan Alliance must seek increased opportunities to advance maritime security and economic development in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Island Chain.
Security cooperation between Japan and the United States has a potential to play an integral part in providing security assistance, equipment, and training to Southeast Asian nations – allowing them to assist in countering maritime aggression.
By asserting territorial claims, defending the freedom of navigation, and bolstering the security capabilities of Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines and Vietnam, the United States and Japan can effectively neutralize malign behavior in the region.
In terms of development, the Japan-U.S. Mekong Power Partnership demonstrates our commitment to maintaining and promoting a more sustainable energy sector and quality energy infrastructure development for our Mekong partner nations.
Our collective network of allies and partners provides the building blocks for an enhanced security architecture that promotes additional interoperability and coordination.
For example, the Blue Dot Network is a multi-stakeholder initiative – spearheaded by Japan, the United States, and Australia – designed to bring together like-minded governments, the private sector, and civil society under shared values to advance global infrastructure development.
We must also seek additional opportunities to work with Australia and India – independently and collectively within the framework of a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
The Quad construct between Japan, the U.S., Australia, and India delivers a diamond of democracy in the Indo-Pacific to harness the strength of our shared values to overcome the emerging security challenges in the region.
Of course, the Quad is not simply focused on the military sphere – there are enormous benefits to advancing this dialogue diplomatically, economically, and certainly in the information arena.
Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent meeting in Tokyo with the other foreign ministers was a monumental step in advancing this unique construct and demonstrating its incredible potential.
Just this week, Australia announced it will participate alongside U.S., Japanese, and Indian forces in the major naval exercise Malabar next month to bolster maritime security while countering Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.
Cooperation at all levels will bring the most powerful democracies in the region together and help uphold the values of the rules-based international order.
Ultimately, I would submit that these four focus areas are where the U.S.-Japan Alliance – and all like-minded nations – must concentrate our efforts over the next 12 months to advance the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision.
I would like to leave you with one closing thought – I contend the strategic competition we find ourselves in today is not a new Cold War between the U.S. and China – but a test of our will to defend our values and stand up for the liberty we have struggled to preserve for the past 60 years.
Containment is not part of our strategy like it was with the Soviets during the Cold War – as our theme of today’s dialogue suggests.
The United States knows how to do this – and believe me, containment is not it.
Our combined vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific recognizes the linkages between the economy and security that are part of the competitive landscape throughout the region.
As allies, we need to think beyond our traditional roles to strengthen our values, our economic interests, and the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific.
There are many willing to stand with us, but they require Japan-U.S. leadership and commitment to improve their capability, capacity, and resiliency in a rapidly changing world.
I am optimistic about our future in the region; the future of our alliance; and the future of global security – because of our shared values, our mutual trust, and our commitment to one another and to upholding the rules-based international order.
Thank you for your time today and for your support of the vital alliance between the United States and Japan.
It is my sincere hope that our alliance continue to be the cornerstone of peace and security in the 21st Century.