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Home : Media : Speeches / Testimony
NEWS | March 6, 2014

Atlantic Council Roundtable

By Presenters: Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command

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ATLANTIC COUNCIL (BARRY PAVEL):  I just wanted to reinforce Paula’s thanks, admiral, for spending your valuable time here joining us and not having more discussions with Congressional committees. We’ll see which one’s more fun when we’re done. I wanted to ask, start this conversation with a few questions and then we’ll open it to the audience. Really gearing off of the document that was released yesterday, the QDR, which is the Pentagon’s major strategic review and I think there’s a lot of richness in this document – some of which the Atlantic Council helped inform and I’ll get to some of that through our interactions with senior officials conducting the review – but I think the main essence of this document, this strategy, is really a reaffirmation of the rebalance to Asia from the President’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. But I think the new factor here and it makes things difficult, are the budget constraints, and we’re all quite familiar with those. But I think it adds some really tough priorities to the overall strategic trajectory of the Defense Department’s strategy and its investments. And I was wondering, in light of the fact that this is sort of the same strategy, roughly, in terms of the emphasis on the importance of Asia as a very dynamic region for security and also for economic matters, and the whole range of global affairs, how do you see this affecting how you accomplish your mission? How in particular are the new budget constraints and the somewhat reduced global capacity of the U.S. military, how are those affecting your ability to get your job done?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, thanks Barry, and first thanks for having me today, and thank you to the Atlantic Council. It’s a great opportunity to speak to you today. I am in town for Congressional testimony and the House yesterday. Fortunately I had it at the same time as the Secretary of Defense and the chairman were having (inaudible), so I didn’t get much heat and light on it, which was good. The quadrennial defense review, I’ve been through a number of them, as you have, as we’ve served together over the years. The quadrennial defense reviews are an opportunity for, in law – we have to produce it; it goes forward every four years with a budget – opportunity for the joint force to take a look at itself and to predict the future. I would say that you have to probably give the U.S. joint force pretty high marks for being able to look forward in the future and be prepared for not what happened last decade, but what’s going to happen next decade. I think we’ve proven our ability to do that. And these kinds of things help that. So this particular quadrennial defense review came on the heels of a strategy that came out of 2012 which basically defined the rebalance to the Asia Pacific or defined the defense priorities which put the rebalance of the Asia Pacific as an imperative as we go forward into the future. And we knew at that time that coming out of about a decade and a half or two decades of really COIN operations, difficult operations in the Middle East that we had to reshape our military for what the future looked like.What we came upon at that time was also the fiscal crisis, which not only struck this country but struck much of the globe, and the recognition that the amount of money that we’re spending globally on defense was not sustainable by the American people; just couldn’t be done. The reality came that we have to start looking at the future and understanding how we’re going to put those resources into play. This particular quadrennial defense review is strategy review, to strategy prioritize. It also has a pretty healthy dose of reality about what it is that you can do with the resources that the current environment we’re in and our country can support. Now with all of that said if things play out with our defense budget the way we would anticipate, we’ll still represent about 40 percent of all defense spending in the world, the U.S. will, so it’s not like we’re going away from global responsibilities, it just means that we have to look at them differently. We also have a security environment, particularly in the Asia Pacific where it is getting more complex, but we’ve had lots and lots of years of opportunity where nations were able to rise and governments were able to solidify themselves, so the security environment in general has been peaceful over a number of decades, and it has given rise to some really amazing miracles, and let’s look at the economic miracle in South Korea for example. It’s amazing what has happened. Even China has benefited by the overall security environment. And during that time the U.S., I think, military presence and U.S. government presence, U.S. presence in general had underwritten that security environment in a positive way that helped the United States and helped the entire region. The recognition as we go forward and even if we are physically constrained is that there is an imperative for our children and our grandchildren to stay. We were a Pacific nation and vast numbers of our national interests lie in the Pacific region.It just makes sense that we’re going to have to re-prioritize some of our military capabilities. So: how will this affect us in a constrained environment? The QDR, once again places at the very top the rebalance of the Asia Pacific as a priority. We’re going to keep, on the military side, a robust military force forward. That forward presence that’s underpinned our relationship, our alliance with Japan, and the Korean Peninsula and our other allies in the region that will stay forward, the aspects of extended deterrence, all of that will remain in place and we’re looking for ways to ensure that that remains viable for the long run. Part of the tasking I got from the President was to go in on the military side of all of our alliances, we have seven treaties that the U.S. is signatory to and five of them are in the Asia-Pacific and they have to be close allies and friends of the United States.  So ensuring that in Japan and in Korea and in Thailand and in the Philippines and in Australia, that we’ve got the architecture of military-to-military right that takes us for a peaceful and secure, stable environment in the Asia Pacific into the next decade.

Will we be faced with challenges? Sure we will. We’ve been through a period of time when we were still in the Middle East; the global security environment is more complex. I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised by that. Globalization has created that to some degree. The fast rise of population in the world today, there’s about seven billion people in the world. Some predict that will go to nine or 10 billion before it tops out in this century. Seven out of 10 of those will live in my particular area of responsibility. We have to anticipate that this will create an environment that has friction in it. We shouldn’t be afraid of it, but we have to predict it. We will be challenged by physical realities. We will be disciplined by physical realities.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: China’s rising as a power and we, at the highest levels we should do all we can to avoid conflicts. Steve Hadley, who works with us, the former national security advisor, gave a very important speech I thought in Beijing last October where I believe he cited two factors as critical for maintaining a stable U.S.-China relationship. One was sort of working on the public images in both countries, of each other and how that’s something that has to be attended to as a key issue for stability. But the other one was a military-to-military relationship. I think the intent and his main theme there was that we want to avoid sort of the military is doing what militaries sometimes have to do, which is, in the course of protecting their perception of national interests, causing some friction, as you said, unnecessarily, that maybe in a crisis, depending on the circumstances, could lead to hostilities. What’s your sense of the state of U.S.-Chinese military-to-military relationship and is there a way to keep it on an even keel even when issues pop up? Because I know the history of this is the relationship goes dormant when one side or the other senses that it’s a lever that they want to pull. What’s your general sense for where this is and where this is heading?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, I’d say that short of miscalculation, the interactions of militaries between any countries are generally driven by the policymakers and the diplomats. So the decisions are made at those levels, what will bring, could potentially bring militaries into areas that we might be concerned about. That said, I would say that, generally, the U.S. relationship with China across many aspects is cooperative, but competitive, and that competition in a lot of different areas, particularly between two fairly significant economies and large regional powers, such as China and our presence there, has the potential to have friction points on it. If you look at the context of the U.S. mil-to-mil relationship, U.S. directly with China, I would say that it is slow but steady and improving. If you look at it only in that context. To the degree that we are dialoging more with our PLA counterparts, that we have more exchange visits, that we’re finding opportunities to see each other in multinational forums, that we are in exercises together that other nations are in, humanitarian assistance, medical exercises, these are all kind of confidence-building measures. I’ve been to China twice. I’ll probably go again a couple of times this year. There’ll be a continuous stream of PLA leadership that will come to the U.S., and we’ll have that dialogue. But it’s a work in progress in that regard.

And globally I think that the relationship between our militaries is satisfactory. The difficulty comes when you get into the kind of the regional area where our allies and friends and partners are, and some of the policies, I believe, of the PRC government that drive their activities to places where we have friction, such as territorial disputes or air defense zones that are put in place that probably were not necessary. That has the potential I think for us to have militaries and even maritime forces that fall below the military threshold to be able to operate near each other in ways that could lead to miscalculation. So, for instance, in the South China Sea we’re very much encouraging the ASEAN nations to pursue with themselves and with China a code of conduct that would allow them to kind of figure out how to get through these very complicated territorial disputes in a way that doesn’t lead to conflict down there. We’re certainly encouraging, at some point in time, a more open dialogue between our Japanese allies and the PRC about the issues in the East China Sea. But I would say that we’re doing better than most people think as far as our mil-to-mil relationship goes.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks very much. Now, as I said, we all want to avoid a conflict, but there are potential scenarios where the worst case might happen and the U.S. might find itself in hostilities with China. What’s your assessment of the ability of the United States right now to be able to handle the most stressing potential contingencies that would involve China? And then, I know you’re one of the more forward-looking commanders since you don’t just care about what’s happening right now. What’s your longer term assessment too, if it was 2020 and you could project trends forward even though that’s an uncertain enterprise these days. What’s your sense of where things are now and where they might be headed in the eight- to 10-year timeframe?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR: In what I always call nirvana, if you look at the future, you would want China and the Chinese military to be integrated effectively into the overall security architecture that maintains peace and stability in this part of the world and in the globe as they get larger. That’s kind of nirvana. We would hope that the things that we do together will lead us, will tend us in the direction of nirvana rather than the direction of conflict, which I firmly believe is not inevitable. Some people say that’s inevitable, I think that’s short sighted. But today I would say that globally, U.S. military power and in combination with our significant military power of our allies around the world, can’t be challenged globally for any foreseeable future, so that’s globally. When you talk about regionally, then you have to look more closely at what are the obstacles to regional security. And I would say that I’m very confident that between our allies and the U.S. military presence in my AOR that today we are in a favorable position to maintain security. I’m not worried about today. I’m kind of looking at down the road. We’re working towards nirvana, but there’s a couple of things I think that we have to consider, and not to sugar coat with the PLA. And you just saw yesterday I guess there’s a 12.2 percent increase in spending from the PRC in military. I don’t think that’s unusual, I mean they’re a growing economy, they’re a growing country, their military was nascent for a while and is now expanding, they have international interests that they’re interested in. We’re finding them in places in the Gulf of Aden and now they’re venturing into the Indian Ocean. They’re getting out and about. They’ll come to RIMPAC and participate with us in Hawaii. This is a big deal. This will be historic this year for them to come and do that. So that piece of it is not as concerning to me as it is about how they choose to use the military that they’re building, how they advertise they’re going to use it, and how they demonstrate they’re going to use it. So if it’s used to coerce their neighbors into giving up a legal process for legitimacy of determining legitimacy of territorial claims, then that would be a problem. If they’re building a submarine force that’s going to be significant in numbers, is this for their own homeland security or is it for other purposes? They have got, I think, a lot of work to do to, these neighbors they have are not going to go away. And these issues are not going to go away. And the United States is not going to go away from the Pacific, I don’t think. There has to be an ability for us to work through these to a point where we can avoid miscalculation, first of all, because you don’t want a bunch of lieutenants on board some ships determining the end state of your national security policy between two super powers or between regional powers. We’re looking for mechanisms to try to ensure that dialogue occurs. But for the original question, for any foreseeable future I’m not concerned about our ability to manage the security environment.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks very much, let me just sort of ask a couple of follow-on questions. When you and I were in our previous positions we spent a lot of time as change agents, trying to move the defense establishment toward a place where the portfolio of capabilities that the United States could bring to bear could handle some of the more uncomfortable challenges that the Defense Department might face. I see in this QDR some protected capabilities: Cyber, Missile Defense, Space, Air & Space, C4 ISR, Precision Strike. I mean, this is the 21st-century American way of war, and I think those are largely right, but I’m worried that it’s a symmetric game that the bureaucracy tends toward wanting to deal with large armies, navies and air forces in a symmetric fashion. I think, my question to you is if there were some sort of conflict would the adversary play this exact game? Are there, I hate to use a well-worn term but, are there asymmetric approaches that even a nation-state might use that don’t play to American strengths and that could surprise us if we are not thinking out of the box?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, I think any good defense strategy or any good COCOM spends a lot of time thinking about “what are your critical vulnerabilities?” We have a force that has been built through the history of how we build our military through our Congress appropriated through the demands of the time that we built it. And the question is, do those remain relevant in the type of conflict you’re talking about? And if they’re not, then how do you make them relevant in that sense? We’ve also had to consider as a critical vulnerability something, I think it’s not a secret, because we operate globally forward we’re very highly reliant on space. We’re very highly reliant on cyber. We’re very highly reliant on extended command and control. No secret, if you were going to try and look at critical vulnerability you would go into those areas. If you look globally at where we would be, I think where people are trying to find ways to influence what the U.S. and our allies do is that they would pinpoint those vulnerabilities and make investments in them. The good news is that in most of those areas we remain dominant and if we choose to will continue to remain dominant in those areas. No question in my mind that the United States and the United States military is ahead of the power curve in cyber. That doesn’t mean that the world is or that our society is, but from a military perspective we’re in front of this problem. Both organizationally, both with what we’re doing in our headquarters and our ability to defend networks, not that it’s not challenging, but we’re in front of this. Are there asymmetries that someone else would have that we would have to consider? Yes. Those asymmetries get more challenging as you go from a global perspective down to a regional perspective. The advent of things like highly capable and accurate missiles, whether they’re used by the people who build them or not, they’re going to proliferate. So they’re going to be in the security environment and we’re going to have to deal with them. I think the QDR heads us in the direction of being able to deal with them.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks. Let me just sort of push on that point with another theme that comes from the QDR which is what they and we here at the Atlantic Council call individual empowerment. We’ve been doing just a lot of work here at the Council on a lot of disruptive technologies that in some ways are democratizing capabilities. The iPhone is democratizing communications. We have the 3D printing revolution, which is democratizing production. We have an ongoing biotech revolution where people are hacking biological organisms and can write code for real-life organisms. And just a number of other just amazingly disruptive technologies that are putting power in the hands of individuals and small groups on a scale that we’ve never seen before in human history. We’re just seeing a glimpse of that now in the Arab awakening but there will be a lot more such I think disruptions that are technology-enabled. They all have good sides, but they all have potentially darker applications, and I am impressed by your position, which requires a lot of work with nation-states. I mean the biggest ones on the globe are in your region and I’d imagine that takes up rightfully most of your time. But how much time do you spend thinking about this individual empowerment trend and how it might surprise you or how it might help leverage your efforts? There’s just a lot in there that we’re studying here and I was curious how that might affect what you do in your job.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, I wouldn’t say that your perspective earlier, your comment about my area, what I call the Indo-Asia-Pacific is really 36 countries in there and North Korea is one of them. Of the other 35, generally they are pretty well-defined nation-states and generally they are pretty well governed. At least they have pretty good control over what happens inside their borders. What that does, I think it provides an environment in this part of the world where, not that those opportunities for individuals to act aren’t there, I just think you that have an environment where nations are more empowered to control it. That’s my observation. Do we have terrorist threats in my AOR? Sure we do. We have a hundred IEDs a month go off throughout my half the world on average, but the nations where this happens are generally better equipped to be able to manage them. And the information flow between the nations in the Asia-Pacific to manage the transnationalization of those threats is improving rapidly. We spend a lot of time looking at violent extremist organizations that would want to capitalize on some of these disruptive technologies down the road. Do we see the same levels of activities that you see in the Middle East? No. Will we see them in the future? Well we’re not naïve to say we won’t. But I think what we’re doing collectively there, and this is an area where I find broad participation by almost every country in the AOR is the ability to work not only at the military level but at the government and military, I mean the government and the law enforcement level, to be able to share information about how these organizations might be spreading in the region and what kind of technologies that they might be pursuing. So, do we spend time thinking about it? We do. Has it overwhelmed our thinking? It has not.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks very much. Let me talk about another threat that you cited a year ago that caused a little bit of a stir in Washington when you were back here I think testifying you talked about climate change as the No. 1 long-term threat that you see in the Pacific area. I just wanted to get your sense of how you see that today versus a year ago and how do you think about that as the commander of the Pacific Command. I mean, how do you work, how do you think about it and what do you do to try to deal with those potential issues?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, the last thing I would ever want to do is be politicized by any particular issue. I am a military officer, so I look at, it’s not my venue to debate the politics of any particular issue. All I do is just report what I see and what I think I see and the implications. If you look at in my AOR this year how many people lost their lives or got hurt by any event, it wasn’t through any kind of military activity it was through natural disaster. And natural disasters, whether there is climate change, the reality is that it’s a pretty aggressive part of the world for natural disasters. About 80 percent of all the natural disasters that happen in the world happen in my AOR, and I think 60 percent of them are the most difficult ones, the hardest ones. Whether its floods or tsunamis or earthquakes, I’ve got 52 percent, 53 percent roughly of the world 52.4 percent is in my AOR. Seventeen percent of that is land mass. The other 83 percent is water. In that area, six out of every 10 people alive today live on that 17 percent of the land mass. And a lot of it’s at sea level. A lot of it’s nearly below sea level. The implications for any climate change or any changes in weather patterns or sea level changes are much more dramatic for this mass amount of population. And guess what? They’re all moving closer to the littorals so they can access the jobs and the access the global economy. We worry all the time about conflict over territorial disputes, things like that, but if you have another large tsunami or you have another large hurricane, I mean we just had one in the Philippines. And I’m not sure I’ve got the exact numbers but several thousand people lost their lives and there’s many, many people still struggling today without. You know, as the Filipino government tries to recover from that. So I haven’t change my position, I mean, if there’s one thing I tell everybody that comes to work for me, every commander, I said, “While you’re here you may not have a conflict with another military, but you will have a natural disaster that you have to either assist in or be prepared to manage the consequences on the other side.” And that has been true every year.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thank you. Let me ask two more questions and then I’ll open it up. I just can’t resist the opportunity to ask a lot of important questions here, and let me ask a related question next which is the Arctic. We saw some really, I’d say some unprecedented incidents over the last six months of the need for some search and rescue of some commercial traffic in the Arctic and obviously from climate change and the patterns that most experts are predicting we’re going to see a lot more traffic in the Arctic. The U.S. government has released some Arctic strategies. How do you think about the Arctic? I know China, the country in your AOR that you deal perhaps the most with is increasingly active, but what’s your sort of overall approach to the Arctic and how do you see it playing out?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well I do think about the Arctic. The good news is, though, that as we look at our Unified Command Plan, the way we assign regions of the world to commanders to think about them, for many, many years that plan had the Arctic divided among a number of COCOMs: EUCOM, PACOM. And what we’ve done is we’ve solidified that strategic think under NORTHCOM, so if you look at my area of responsibility it basically stops as you enter the Arctic Circle in the north. That said, I think strategically when you look at a North Pole region that is iceless or at least partially iceless part of the year, first of all it’s all about dollars and cents. I mean, it’s a lot shorter to go from Northeast Asia or Southeast Asia to the other side of the world if you go over the top then it is to go around the other way. I think that the global economy will drive the activity in the Arctic. Then there is the question of how do you map out the Arctic and there’s a vast slope that’s supposed to be rich in petroleum. How’s that going to enter into the next territorial dispute debate we have. Is it going to expand into the Arctic? I hope that we’re, that we are diplomatically ahead of that. But I would say that, that’s, you know, the jury is still out on it, we’ll see. And then of course, you know, the protein supplies, the Coast Guard tells me that the fish supplies are collapsing in many places in the world. Really only a very few places left that have the kind of, when you need access to maintain the huge demand on the fisheries of the world. Of course, that’s a big one. It’s up there. I think we have to posture ourselves for peace, but you’re going to get that peace I think through making sure you sense what’s in the area, you know what’s going on, and you have the ability to protect your own national interests.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks. And then the last question before we take some from the audience, we’re here at the Atlantic Council and Ukraine is really in the headlines. It certainly surprised most and I think the worry really is if you take it back to the QDR and the Defense Strategy and the defense capabilities of the United States, the worry is that EUCOM, if this plays out in potentially threatening ways, and it wouldn’t take much to do so, I think the worry is that EUCOM, European Command ceases to be a command where we work with allies to prepare for operations in other regions and once again returns to a region that becomes a source of potential threat, potential military planning, and potential demand on our capacities. I wanted to get your sense for how that might affect how you do your job, and I’m sure you also deal with Russia, with the Russian military, in your position and so what’s your sense of how this might affect you and of how you might see some potential roles for even PACOM in working with the Russian military.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  We interact with the Russian military today. Generally I would try to make a visit to the East Coast to spend time with them, and we’ll see if those visits remain on track. At this point in time I wouldn’t speculate. I spent a lot of time in EUCOM, and EUCOM for a lot of reasons, whether its EUCOM support to NATO even though we have drawn down our footprint there, our, what we ‘ve been calling the Cold War footprint. Our partnerships, our allies and our laydown and our ability to flow forces through EUCOM are important to everybody, every COCOM. Particularly CENTCOM, particularly AFRICOM, but PACOM as well. I’m not so concerned that competition for resources will diminish the capability for us to remain in place to do the support we need in the Asia Pacific. But there is only so much to go around, so you’ll see my testimony from yesterday I got a question about the size of our maritime forces. Well, the reality is that the maritime domain is, the world’s not getting physically any bigger but the places where you’re going to have to defend, potentially defend, your interests in the maritime domain are increasing. We just talked about the Arctic as being one of them. To the degree that you are able, not only as a U.S. military or U.S. Navy in this case, but in combination with your other allies and partners who have increasingly robust capabilities in some areas is, are you able to secure the global maritime environment in a way that allows the global economy to continue to click along? Every time you have something else happen, whether it’s in Syria or Russia or off the coast of Africa or in the South China Sea or in the Arctic, you start to take a decreasing number of assets and you have to make them deploy globally in places you haven’t and it starts to put pressure on them. We’ll have to work through it.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks very much. Now we’ll open up to questions. Boy, we have a lot, as I thought. The lady right here in the middle. If we can get a microphone. And if you can identify yourself as you ask your question, that would be very helpful.

:  I just want to follow up on the Chinese military budget question. First of all, admiral do you believe the number is actual, the real military budget because some think tanks are suggesting the actual number might be higher and secondly, could you please talk about what are those concrete steps you’d like to see Chinese military to take to show more transparency and to get to know more about their intentions? Thank you.40:25

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  The first part of your question, I think you ought to ask the PLA about whether there’s more than 12.2 percent. I think the number that was quoted in the papers was their defense budget is about 138 billion is where it was going to go to, somewhere in that range as I recall. Anecdotally, I would say that my observation is that there is a lot of military activity, a lot of military R&D, there’s a lot of military testing, there’s a lot of hypersonics, missile testing, ship building, submarine that would question whether or not you could do that with 138 billion dollars. That would be my question just from observing it. But I would refer you back to the Chinese and ask them if it’s an accurate figure or not, because I think that accuracy plays into the issue of transparency. The thing that all people in the world should recognize about America is that we’re transparent on this. We have to be, our formal government requires us to be transparent. As painful as it is sometimes, you get to see every dollar and the way we spend it and where we spend it. I would start there, with transparency. I think they have to, then have got to look at how they interact with their neighbors. Their neighbors are not going away. I think that the PLA, China, to be an effective regional leader, which is what China needs to be, they have to go out and they have to, leaders have to take the step forward to lead. They can’t be the victims all the time. I think there’s a perspective, perception that the Chinese feel victimized. As long as you feel victimized, it’s going to be hard to be transparent. The military leaders, I think, need to continue to get out, continually need to have dialogue. They need to continue to participate in multinational environments where they bring their ships and their airplanes together. They should not be fearful of those environments that they’re going to be somehow singled out. And they’re moving in that direction. So when we invited them to come to this RIMPAC, I know it sounds like it’s a small thing, but it is a big thing. And I applaud them for their transparency because think about it, they’re going to come to Hawaii with three or four ships, into a forum that’s got 20-something nations in it, some of them they’re not getting along particularly well with right now. And they’re going into a structure that’s U.S. led. And they’re going to come and participate. Well that’s a pretty big step. And I think those kind of steps are the things that the region and the world are looking for from China. And they welcome it. I think they welcome that transparency.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks. We have General Wall in the front. Here’s comes your microphone – not that you need it.

GEN. WALL: Thank you, no I don’t need it. Thank you for what you do. So I know you got a complicated area; I really appreciate that. Can you just talk a little bit about, quickly, and I think I know what it is, but what your objective with India would be strategically. But more importantly, how do you see them fitting into this process with you?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, once again on the 2012 strategy where I was directed to work a more long-term strategic relationship with India. Of course, India is 1.1 or 1.2 billion people. The world’s most largest and most vibrant democracy is what they say about themselves. And they have a definite key role to play in the security environment, particularly in the Indian Ocean, in that region. And we welcome them assuming that role. We recognize that their non-aligned perspective forces them, it makes them have to deal with us in different ways. But we have first started by looking at how do we share technologies and how do we do defense investments together. And I think we’re, this year, the largest defense partnership that India has is with the United States. That’s a positive side, because even though you might question the value of the defense articles in general, but when countries pursue them together, it binds them together through training and through common perspective of how you employ it. These are all good. Each of our services have a very good, ongoing and growing amount of mil-to-mil engagement with the Indians. They don’t have a similar kind of joint structure that we have, so I think that that makes it a little more circuitous for how we get to how we do it. So I would say that we’re making steady progress.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks. I have Ambassador Gelbard in the front row, and then we’ll go to Harlan Ullman.

AMBASSADOR ROBERT GELBARD:  Thank you. Robert Gelbard, Atlantic Council Board and former ambassador to Indonesia.  (Inaudible) asked about the issues in Ukraine and I know you’re taught never to answer hypotheticals, but given the relatively mild response by the west all together: How do you see this changing expectations, planning and potentially actions among actors in your AOR, including of course particularly China given the ADIZ declaration and other actions and declarations involving sea and islands?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well I’m not a Ukraine expert. As you folks have already spent a lot of time looking at it, I’ll defer the Ukraine analogy to y'all to assess. What I would say that, when I look at our alliance relationships, first, some of them are historic. I mean, the alliance with Thailand is 181 years old this year. But when you look at them, and you look at them from the military perspective, they’re pretty clear on what our government has signed up to do with our ally. And I don’t see any indication that we’re not in it for the long run on these treaties. In fact, I see the opposite: I see that we’re looking harder at how we ensure that our mutual interests under those treaties remain viable for the next century. So I think this is good news for the Asia-Pacific. Now, to the hypothetical of whether what happened to Ukraine would create an opportunity for someone in the Asia-Pacific? Hypothetically I would answer you and say I don’t see it, but if it happened it would be a terrible mistake.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks. Second row, in the middle. Harlan Ullman has been patient.

HARLAN K. ULLMAN:  Admiral, good morning. Thanks for being here. I’m Harlan Ullman with the Atlantic Council. An observation and a question about China. What concerns me most about China right now is economic and financial. China has a growing real estate bubble that could burst, it has huge internal debt and (inaudible) and you may have read today that Shanghai Chaori Solar defaulted for the first time in Chinese history, at least in this government. Some say that’s a good thing because it’s going to cause the government to reform. Others say it’s a precursor. My questions has to do with the AirSea concept battle which you are intimately familiar. It makes perfectly good sense in the Persian Gulf, but it tinges, it smacks of the charge of the light brigade in the Chinese situation. I wondered if because you’ve looked at various options in the military sense about China, what are the pluses and minuses of an anti-access/anti-sea denial strategy that we might employ that would prevent China from reaching out too far rather than a more offensive campaign as envisaged by the AirSea concept?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  You said I’m intimately familiar with the AirSea Battle concept. I would say intimate is probably a little, a stretch.

  I’m quite surprised that the commander of the Pacific is not intimately (inaudible).

  Well the AirSea Battle, and we have this dialogue even with our PLA counterparts, we talk about it. The AirSea Battle, you know we had an AirLand, battle that we did a number of decades ago. And what this is, is what all good militaries should be doing, they should be looking at the investments they’ve made, particularly in the model that the world is in as we build armies, navies, air forces and sometimes marine corps.  And every country does it, because that’s just the way the industrial base and over time has pressed it on the world. When you do that, and the U.S. fights it all the time, fights the bifurcation of these capabilities and inefficiencies. They’re broadly in other countries, though. I mean, that construct is not a joint warfighting and it’s not optimized. The AirSea Battle is not a strategy, it’s an opportunity to look at how do you take the force that you have built in these stovepipes and how do you merge them together in the domain so that you are, you use them to the best you have. The best capability you have. And where you lack capabilities, that’s where you put your investment in. It’s really more of a warfighting efficiency and investment than it is a strategy against any given nation or any given contingency plan that you might develop. That’s AirSea Battle. The question is whether or not in contingencies that we develop globally whether you would look at different strategies other than what you’re concerned about, is a frontal assault, right? In a region where you might have heavy A2AD. And I would contend it’s not just my AOR, there’s other places where you would deal with that. Are there additional strategies that you should employ to be able to impose costs? I think the answer to that is yes. And we do that planning.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks. We have some people in the middle, if we can have some microphones, I’ll grab a couple because we’re starting to run out of time. In the middle of the aisle, there’s a gentlemen and a lady that can each ask a question and then we’ll take two at a time.

STEW MAGNUSSON with NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE:  Can you talk about how you plan on using the LCS and what roles you see for it in your area of operation?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  That’s a great question. I happened to be in the room on the day that we decided to build the LCS in the Navy. I was a Captain executive assistant and we’d been kicking around the idea of what is the next ship that we need and what was the niche that needed to be filled.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: What year was that? I’m just curious.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  It was about 1997/1998. So the LCS, Littoral Combat Ship, it was initially kind of talked about as called a Street Fighter, you might even remember some of that dialogue that occurred back then. So what the Navy was facing at that time was, first of all, they needed a ship that could operate in the littorals that was shallow draft, because the fleet we had built at that time with large anti-submarine capabilities, the drafts were deeper drafts than what we wanted. So we needed something to go in shallow. We wanted something that was fast because speed in the littorals is important. And we thought that. We knew that we were facing budgetary constraints on people. So we had to build a ship that didn’t have 300 people on it, and so we built one that had 75 people on it, and that’s plus or minus about kind of where it ended up. We also wanted to build a platform that didn’t, every time you wanted to upgrade it, because these things have to last 20, 30 years, that you didn’t have to take it and gut it. Take it into a shipyard and cut it all to pieces. That you could just take packages and you could change out the module at the time. We wanted a multi-capability, so we wanted a module that could do mine warfare, a module that could do anti-submarine warfare, a module that could do surface warfare, and we wanted it to be so that the packages were heavily emphasizing off-board sensors, meaning you take the man or the woman out of the loop or out of the battlespace and kept them at a safe distance and you allowed the off-board sensors. And we wanted it to be cheap. And we wanted to build it in something less than two decades. So we turned it over to industry and said here, you go have at it, tell us how to do it better than we’ve done in the past. Because we’re always getting knocked around because we don’t know how to build ships efficiently or the Navy can’t figure out what they want and it’s too expensive. All those things went into the LCS and most of them were realized. It’s fast. It’s shallow. It’s reconfigurable. It has a low number of people. It was built by industry. It was built by industry to a standard that some would say was less rigorous than what we build warships to, but we knew that would be the case in the first few of them and we would have to evolve them as we went on. So they have a role, in particularly, globally, in places where you might not, you might want to operate with other navies that feel more comfortable operating alongside a littoral-size of ship, rather than a big cruiser or an aircraft carrier. So we had all these things in mind. Have we realized them? Yeah, most of them. I think the question that now comes is that you look at the size of your Navy. How many of these do you want? The answer is that if you’re going to have a 300-and-something ship Navy, which I think is probably the minimum size for the global concerns you have now, that the number was about 55, and that number made sense at that time. Now we’re in fiscal constraints and there’s been dialogue about are they lethal enough, are they survivable enough? They can be moved in that direction, but they weren’t built for that criteria. They were built for the criteria I outlined. They’re good ships, and we got them a lot faster than; we just sent them to Singapore. We sent them out a couple years earlier than we had anticipated. It was the first ship, the Freedom. It was a research and development ship. The follow-on ship looks different than it does. It’s longer and got changes to it, but we sent it for proof of concept, and they did pretty good. They did pretty good. So we look forward to follow-on deployments.

LEE HUDSON, INSIDE the NAVY:  In the past, you’ve discussed the importance the P8 will play in PACOM and in the FY15 budget, the buy was slashed in half, and the compliment to P8, the Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, it was delayed by a year. And I was just wondering if you could discuss the risk that this introduces into your AOR.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, as I said, remember, 52 percent of the world, 83 percent of its water. So to do maritime security with P-8s, P-3s the legacy P-3-4s are critical to security and stability in our region. Now the good news is that other people are buying P-8s as well, are committed to buying. It is the reconnaissance, maritime reconnaissance aircraft that’s here now in limited numbers, but will be prolific throughout my AOR in the future. Certainly I’m concerned by budget decisions about reducing buys. But the budget is what it is, and we’ll manage the risk as we go forward. But we already put the first P-8s that were operationally forward in my theater. We’re already receiving the benefits of it, and if the QDR holds true, we’ll continue to prioritize those P-8s to the region where they’re most needed, which I think’s the Asia-Pacific.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Let me go to the back, there’s a gentleman with his hand up right there.

KAKUMI KOBAYASHI, KYOTO NEWS, JAPAN:  Thank you, admiral. I’d like to ask you something about your 2020 strategy in QDR in connection with your plan to bring 60 percent of the number of assets to the prospect. You’re also referring to the enhancements to the navy’s presence in Japan, so I’m wondering if you could give us more details – what kind of ideas you have. Do you simply mean the increasing number of vessels or something else? Thank you.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, it’s a great question. One of the commitments that we have from the Department of Defense is to ensure that in the Asia-Pacific that we have not only the adequate and robust forward presence, but that those are the most high end and highly capable assets we have. You will see the MV-22s, for instance, who have been successfully integrated into the region and the capabilities that they bring. The P-8s have been integrated into that alliance architecture. The ongoing initiatives we have to ensure that we have the Marine Corps properly positioned and the issues that are going on with Okinawa and the new facilities, runways at Camp Schwab. We send only our very best cruisers and destroyers with the highest-end capabilities when they come. The F-22s that the U.S. has are all dedicated to the Asia-Pacific. They’re all here. We are going to ensure that we have the adequate maritime lift and the maritime resupply to be able to support the 60 percent of the Navy who’s going to be here. The submarine force the U.S. has is biased to the Asia-Pacific in a pretty significant way and that will continue. Lots of examples of how that’s going to happen. We’ll change out the George Washington in Japan with the Ronald Reagan. It’ll be the high state-of-the-art carrier that we have as far as capabilities for this theater.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thanks, why don’t we take a couple questions over here.

TERRY MURPHY:  Good morning, admiral. Former lieutenant, one of those people who would have started a war but the chief petty officer wouldn’t let us do it. My question is based upon the year we’re in, 2014, 100 years after 1914, and I just finished reading Margaret McMillan’s fantastic book called, “The War that Ended Peace.” And it’s fair to say that in the run-up to disaster everybody was wrong. But of all the everybodys, probably the most important people who were wrong were the general staffs. Fifty years earlier, in 1861 to 1865, theirattachés reported, every one of them, about the power of the defensive in the American Civil War. It was unanimously ignored, by a mindset that said, “L’attaque, l’attaque, toujours l’attaque,” the Germans, the French, everybody. And guess what happened? They attacked themselves into, well we all know. Do you have on your top staffs, your best people, your brightest, brightest, do you have naysayers? Do you, I mean, all the people at your level; the commands at your level, at General Wall’s level. Do you have people who aren’t going to make flag, who will not reach four stars, or one star, but who are there to say, “No,” or “Why does this work?” or “Why are we doing it that way?” Do you have people like that?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Of course, you never know what you don’t know, right? The answer I would tell you is yes. But that doesn’t mean that I have perfect clairvoyance on the issue. But obviously, if you would have asked them the same thing in 1914 they probably would have said, “Yes. I have those people on my staff.” One of the reasons I come to places like this is so that I get these questions. So I get perspectives from people other than my staffs. I would say, though, that the staff at PACOM is a pretty broad staff. It’s not what you would have found in 1914. It’s a staff that has significant warfighting planning and experience on it. But it’s also an interagency staff, so I have the Department of Interior. I have USAID. I have a State Department rep. who’s my, like my deputy Chief of Staff, I mean he’s right there with me all the time. I have satellite groups that I fund and I put them out in their own box and let them think, so that the bureaucracy doesn’t get after them. I call them the people who can only say no. That can’t stop their thinking. And those continually input ideas into, directly into me. I think I’ve been taught by some good leaders over time how to create alternative thinking or friction in my thinking. And I value it. I’m not afraid of it. To that degree, I hope I’m not wrong. And most of them won’t make flag by the way.

GENIE NGUYEN, VOICE of VIETNAMESE AMERICANS:  I came here in 1975. Thank you for your service admiral. This question is on the national interests of the U.S. and the maritime sovereignty of the United States. Would you suggest that Congress ratify the UNCLOS? And it has to do with the South China Sea, you suggest that we should come up with a code of conduct. And China has repeatedly said that the U.S. hasn’t been a party in the UNCLOS, so don’t talk about the code of conduct because they continue saying that the Nine-Dash Line is still their claim. Given the South China Sea, the Arctic and the East China Sea and more importantly you talk about the vulnerable points. Talking about A2AD and ADIZ that recently they being established and also there is a fear that there will be another ADIZ imposed in the South China Sea. Two points: What would you think the Navy can ask Congress to do to support you, to make it easier for you, to make it less costly for us to defend our national interests and maritime sovereignty? Would they ratify the UNCLOS? And secondly, would you ask them to stop the sequestration? Thank you.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thank you. And do you like warm apple pie?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  I’ve testified to Congress on my support of ratifying the UNCLOS treaty and I haven’t changed my perspective on that. I understand there’s in any Senate ratified treaty they get a pretty close look and opinions, and I respect those opinions. And I only have one view of UNCLOS. I have the security view. So, there’s other economic views that I don’t really spend a lot of time on. To the argument that someone would say that, well, you can’t have a comment on this because you haven’t signed up for the treaty: it’s kind of not a very good argument, in my view. First of all, last two or three president directives we’ve been directed to comply with all aspects of UNCLOS as we act through it in the security environment, so we do support that. We actually support it even though we haven’t signed it, whereas the Chinese signed it but don’t support it. You’d have to ask them how they get to that logic, but it escapes me. The UNCLOS, I ask myself, how did we get to all these issues with territorial disputes, because they’ve been around for hundreds of years, some of them. Why is it now? Well, I think it’s several reasons. One is that you have a rising China that was basically not involved in these processes for a number of decades that now is a global economic power that says, “Hey, I didn’t get a vote on this, so I need to make sure that I’m not victimized here.” You have a growing need for fish and protein that comes out of these, some of the richest fish waters in the world. And you have petroleum products and natural gas and things that are in there. And then you put UNCLOS on it, and that gives everybody a framework of which to say, “Well, this is mine, and how do you define it?” So all these things now have culminated at a time where now if you look at the South China Sea and you lay up all the claims; I have a chart in my office that lays ’em out. I call it the chicken soup chart; it looks like chicken noodle soup because the competing claims are so complex you go, well, how will they ever figure this out? Well, the way they should figure it out is using the legal systems, using international tribunals, which countries are using successfully today, so that they have a chance to articulate. So I would say to the Chinese, if you think your Nine-Dash Line is accurate, take it to a tribunal and prove it. Don’t try to prove it through coercive behavior, which I think is what their neighbors believe is happening. Was there another part of that question? And I’ll tell them to take sequestration away, I guarantee, I’ll ask them, I’ll keep asking.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Why don’t we go to the back, the lady there, the last question, with her hand up.

LINDA YARR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSTIY:  Thank you, Admiral Locklear. I greatly appreciate your spotlighting the issue of climate change, as did the QDR in fact. My question is whether you see climate change as a kind of framework that could be used for increasing cooperation on military-military bases within the region.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  I think the consequences of climate changes already drive that. One thing we can find common among all of us is the need to be able to respond to human disasters, and we’re doing it. We build confidence, we have throughout the region multiple opportunities where militaries come together and work side by side, learn how to talk to each other, learn how to communicate, and it’s all around the aspect of, how do you respond to a natural disaster. It paid big dividends in this event that happened in the Philippines. I mean, I kind of took it for granted that everybody responded so fast, but it really was a multinational effort. The U.S. kind of got there first, but allies and partners in the region, that, if they hadn’t practiced this and had common sets of procedures and understanding, it never would’ve happened in years past. But you had many nations coming in and making a big difference, that enabled the Filipino government and military, and in about 10 days after it began, they took over the event and have done really a fine job, which I think is a testament to the amount of effort we are putting in this as a part of the security environment.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: But if I could just follow up. I think, her question, I think is, does cooperation on the looming effects of climate change, is that a potential lever, another avenue of cooperation between the U.S. military and the Chinese military, in addition to them coming to RIMPAC and all the other types of activities. I think that’s what her question is.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, as far as on the contributions to climate change?

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: I think sort of working with the Chinese military to better respond to the effects of climate change, which is largely humanitarian relief and disaster assistance.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, we do that already. I mean, we have probably several forums this year where we operated with the Chinese, alongside the Chinese in multinational forums where we did those types of activities together. So this is not something new for U.S. and the PLA Navy, in particular.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER:  How does it affect (unintelligible) climate change is part of the strategic and economic dialogue, which is at the very highest level between the United States and China. How does that directly impact you on this aspect?

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Well, the strategic-economic dialogue each year, I get invited to participate. We have a security dialogue with the Chinese at the same time, generally. So we’ll have a day of discussions about security challenges and then we go in to the economic dialogue, which we’ll then talk though these broader issues of things like climate change and those types of things. So they’re all kind of interconnected in the dialogue. So that’s happening.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Well, admiral, we’re out of time. I know that there’s lots more questions from the audience, and I have a lot more, but it’s time to end this. And I really can’t thank you enough for spending time here. The Atlantic Council is doing a lot of Asia work and we really look forward to engaging with you further, but thank you so much for a really, really interesting and important conversation.

ADM. SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR:  Thanks, Barry, appreciate it. Thank you.


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