Good morning Chairman Levin, Senator Inhofe, and distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today and to provide you with my perspectives on the posture of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM). I request that my written testimony be included in the record.
For the past 12 months I have had the great honor to lead over 328,000 service members and 38,000 civilian employees along with all of their families. Our area of responsibility is diverse and complex. Stretching from California to India, the Indo-Asia-Pacific encompasses over half of the Earth's surface and well over half of its population.
This region is culturally, socially, economically, and geo-politically diverse. The nations of the Indo-Asia-Pacific include: five of our nation's seven treaty allies; three of the largest and seven of the ten smallest economies; the most populous nations in the world, including the largest Muslim-majority nation; the largest democracy; and the world's smallest republic.
The Indo-Asia-Pacific is the engine that drives the global economy. The "open and accessible" sea lanes throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific annually enjoy over 8 trillion dollars in bilateral trade with one-third of the world's bulk cargo and two-thirds of its oil shipments sailing to or from nine of the world's ten largest economic ports.
By any meaningful measure, the Indo-Asia-Pacific is also the world's most militarized region with seven of the ten largest standing militaries, the world's largest and most sophisticated navies, and five of the world's declared nuclear armed nations.
When taken together all of these aspects represent a region with a unique strategic complexity and a wide, diverse group of challenges that can significantly stress the security environment.
Effectively engaging in the Indo-Asia-Pacific requires a committed and sustained effort, and USPACOM, as the military component of this commitment, is clearly focused in our efforts to deter aggression, assure our allies and partners, and to prevent should our national interests be threatened.
While the Indo-Asia-Pacific is at relative peace, I am concerned by a number of security challenges that have the possibility to impact the stability of today's security environment.
We expect instability on the Korean Peninsula will persist as a young, impetuous leader continues to focus on provocation rather than on his own people. The rise of China and India as global economic powers and their emergence as regional military powers will continue; and with China specifically, we are focusing our efforts on building relationships with them and helping them emerge into the security environment as contributors to global peace and prosperity.
And we expect that growing populations will continue to be challenged by the inevitable earthquakes, tsunamis, super typhoons, and flooding; as well as continued transnational non-state threats like pandemics, pirates, terrorists and criminal organizations, human trafficking, and WMD. We will also, no doubt, see historic and emerging border and territorial disputes continue as competition for water, food and energy grow, and access and freedom of action in the shared domains of sea, air, space and cyberspace become more challenging.
And finally, there is no single organizational mechanism in the Indo-Asia-Pacific to manage relationships and, when needed, provide a framework for conflict resolution. So we must rely on our allies and partner relationships including those with regional organizations like ASEAN to better ensure we avoid conflict.
The U.S. joint force has been heavily tasked in other AORs over the past decade, and as a consequence, the USPACOM AOR, in many key areas, has been under-resourced and has assumed additional risk.
Our rebalance to the Pacific strategy has given us a new opportunity to begin to solve these challenges and re-emphasize to our allies and partners that we are a committed Pacific nation. It also reflects the recognition that the future prosperity of the U.S. will be defined largely by events and developments in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
Over the past year, the rebalance has helped focus our planning and resourcing decisions as we work closer with our allies and partners to ensure a security environment favorable to U.S. interests. However, the impacts of sequestration have created budget uncertainties, limited our flexibility to manage risk, and have the potential to undermine our long-term strategic rebalance momentum.
Nonetheless, USPACOM will continue to work with the services to preserve, to the extent possible, our essential homeland defense and crisis response capabilities resident in our forward deployed forces.
The Pacific Ocean does not separate the U.S. from Asia; it connects us. We are connected by our economies, cultures, shared interests, and security challenges. We have been resource-challenged and accepting risk in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region for some time, but our rebalance strategy is in place, and we are making good progress.
Let me assure you that USPACOM will continue to demonstrate to our allies, partners and others, the U.S. resolve and commitment to peace and security in this important part of the world.
On behalf of our superb military and civilian members, and their families, all of whom sacrifice every day to ensure that our country is well defended, I would like to thank each member of this committee for your support.
I look forward to your questions.
— USPACOM (posted April 09, 2013) —