Admiral John C. Aquilino
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
Pacific Future Forum Keynote
HMS Prince of Wales, UK
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Good Morning… or as we say in Hawaii…ALOHA.
Thank you for inviting me to join the Pacific Future Forum on Her Majesty’s newest aircraft carrier, The Prince of Wales.
What a magnificent ship and symbol of the future contributions a “Global Britain” will provide to the security landscape.
I want to thank The Honorable Ben Wallace and 1st Sea Lord Sir Tony Radakin for encouraging me to attend this conference and publicly congratulate Tony on being named the United Kingdom’s 24th Chief of the Defense Staff (CDS).
Tony has been a fabulous partner. I know the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States will continue to thrive under his leadership.
Seventy-five years ago, out of the ashes of World War Two, the allies and partners built a rules-based international order.
This order was based on the principles of good governance, the rule of law, free people, free markets, open seas, open skies, and the conviction that wars of aggression should be relegated to the past.
This agreed to international order, provided an era of peace, and stability in the INDO-PACIFIC. This success was achieved because of the appeal of common values and the impressive prosperity it fostered – for all nations.
However, today, the rules-based international order, which benefited so many, is being challenged in the Indo-Pacific.
Revisionist, autocratic powers seek to disrupt and displace the current system in ways that benefit them at the expense of all others.
The vast majority of countries throughout the Region have rallied around the desire for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific that recognizes our common values of peace, security, stability, prosperity, good governance, enabled by adherence to the rules- based international order.
THIS IS defining the security landscape in the 21st Century and today’s global linkages of security and prosperity will impact the national interests of the UK and the EU.
The Indo-Pacific is home to the four most populous nations, the three largest democracies, and four of the five largest economies, which comprise 60% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and two-thirds of the present global growth.
Seven of the world’s ten largest armies, the most sophisticated navies, and five of the world’s declared nuclear nations reside in the Indo-Pacific.
Additionally, the sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific are the busiest in the world, supported by the world’s nine largest ports. Every day, half of the entire world's container cargo and 70% of ship-borne energy supply flows through this area.
The most important message I can send to this Forum is how vital the Indo-Pacific is to the future prosperity and security of Europe and global cooperation.
Like-minded nations must work together to defend the global commons and the rules-based international order that has and continues to provide peace and security we all desire.
Although there are different security structures between the European and the Indo-Pacific, it is critically important that the global set of like-minded allies, partners, and friends come together in support of our common values.
As a good example, the United States’ oldest ally, France, continues to support peace and prosperity for both her 1.6 million citizens in the region as well as their population in Europe.
France is enhancing its human, geographic, and economic connections with the region by providing significant military presence including frequent deployments by attack submarines, frigates, and amphibious assault ships.
We value their efforts and welcome future deployments of the Charles De Gaulle to the region.
Whether we are talking about the five U.S. bilateral treaty allies in the Pacific, member states of the NATO alliance, mature multilateral forums, strategic partnerships, or minilateral engagements, ALL are needed to secure and sustain free and open access to the global commons.
This access provides unprecedented connectivity for global financial markets, people-to-people ties, commercial enterprises, and military operations.
For decades, deterrence theory has equaled establishing a basic truth within the minds of potential adversaries that the costs and risks of aggression are out of line with any conceivable benefit.
In today’s interdependent world, we have embraced the concept of Integrated Deterrence.
The synchronization of all elements of national power, military and non-military, in all domains, in lock-step with allies and partners, to prevent conflict and maintain peace, stability, and prosperity globally.
The military aspects of integrated deterrence require the joint force to think, act, and operate differently, and I can offer no better example of this than the recent deployment of Her Majesty’s Queen Elizabeth Strike Group.
The collage of pictures on display behind me illustrate various examples of multi-domain integrated air, land, and sea operations.
CSG-21 brought together an unmatched network of allies and partners from seven nations, including more than 15,000 sailors, Marines, and four carrier strike groups with participation from the U.K., Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia.
Additionally, you can see these strike groups conducting flight operations and air defense exercise scenarios as well as simulated strikes against maritime targets bringing together F/A-18 Super Hornets from aboard Ronald Reagan, F-35Bs from both the Royal Air Force, U.S. Marines operating from Queen Elizabeth, and the first operational F-35C squadron from the Carl Vinson.
If we are to defend the rules-based international order, this kind of enhanced combined force brings together our most advanced capabilities from multiple domains (air, land, sea, cyber, and space) to create the virtues of mass without the vulnerability of concentration, and this can only be achieved when allies, partners, and friends operate together.
This kind of combined military operation must become more expeditionary and orchestrated as combined campaigns to ensure we can counter anti-access threats, prevail in a broad range of operations across multiple theaters, and do so in asynchronous time frames.
This effort to plan, coordinate, and execute these kinds of operations are at the core of USINDOPACOM’s approach that we refer to as SEIZE THE INITIATIVE.
It requires us to employ existing and emerging capabilities through a distributed network on a global scale specifically tailored to meet the requirements for preserving access to the global commons while countering threats from state and non-state actors.
Seize the Initiative requires a geographically distributed, operationally resilient, defense-in-depth, and sustainable force posture that is coordinated globally and effectively employed every day.
USINDOPACOM will continue to strengthen our alliances, develop new friendships, and integrate our forces into a broader network of friendships based on shared values and interests to deliver Integrated Deterrence.
As I stand here this morning on the Prince of Wales, I want to encourage our allies and partners across the globe to regularly deploy to the INDO-PACIFIC and continue to contribute to the Integrated Deterrence that will defend the international rules-based order to extend the
peace, security, and prosperity we have enjoyed these past 75 years.
Again, I want to congratulate the Royal Navy on Her Majesty’s newest aircraft carrier, the Prince of Wales, and for the Queen Elizabeth's successful deployment to the Indo-Pacific.
We pray for the safe return of all the sailors and Marines as they complete their last set of exercises currently being conducted with the Indian Navy and the Carl Vinson Strike Group in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.
I appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts this morning, and I look forward to a rewarding discussion, and never forget – we are stronger together! Thank you