Ashton B. Carter ‘Walking the
Walk’ on Strategic Rebalance
July 19, 2012
Secretary Ashton B. Carter stood on the deck of the USS Missouri, the
battleship that served as the site of the surrender that ended World War
II, and summoned U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines gathered
there to what he called “a new purpose in a new moment in our nation’s
national security history.”
Carter visited Hawaii on the first leg of an Asia-Pacific regional tour
that will take him to Guam, Japan, Thailand, India and South Korea. In
Hawaii, home to U.S. Pacific Command, he told the roughly 150 service
members in attendance that they will witness the U.S. strategic
rebalance to the Pacific, while at the same time carrying on a long
legacy of successful service in the region.
The USS Missouri’s teak deck the deputy secretary stood on is now part
of a floating museum. The warship, the last Iowa-class battleship the
U.S. launched and the last to serve, was anchored in Tokyo Bay on Sept.
2, 1945, when U.S and Japanese representatives signed the document
marking Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II.
“The folks who fought that war were about your age, or some of you are
younger, and they were -- they were the greatest generation of that
time,” the deputy defense secretary said.
Carter said his main points in speaking to the troops were to thank them
for their service, and to explain why that service is important.
“You all are the greatest generation of this time,” he said. “And I want
each and every one of you to go home tonight, to your family or your
close friends, or call your parents or whoever is close to you, and say
that today you were thanked by the leadership of the Department of
Defense, and your country, for what you do.”
Everyone who works in national defense supports an effort greater than
themselves, and greater even than the nation, Carter said, “because the
United States still provides security to much of the world.”
The Asia-Pacific region shows the value of that security in its booming
economies and enduring peace, he noted.
“It really starts with the principles that we [in the United States]
stand up for, that we uphold, and that we have stood for in this part of
the world for 70 years now,” Carter said.
The U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region has been constant
and strong over those decades, he said, and is largely responsible for
the region’s stability.
“In that environment of peace and security, first Japan was able to
rise, then Korea was able to rise and now, yes, China [is] able to rise
to develop their own people [and] to develop economically,” Carter said.
“And that’s only possible in an environment of peace and security.“
Defense leaders “aim to continue to be the pivotal factor for peace and
security in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.
Carter noted the rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, which is
underway now off the coast of Hawaii and involves the U.S Navy and 21
other nations’ sea forces. He said RIMPAC is a model of the U.S.
Asia-Pacific strategy to further-strengthen partner nations’ military
capabilities and build partnerships, alliances and friendships on which
regional security and stability rests.
The deputy secretary noted that as President Barack Obama and Defense
Secretary Leon E. Panetta have outlined, the U.S. military’s focus will
shift to the Asia-Pacific region as the last decade’s wars wind down.
U.S. Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, the F-35C,
conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay near Naval Air Station
Patuxent River in Maryland Feb. 11, 2011. Lt. Cmdr. Eric "Magic" Buus
flew the F-35C for two hours, checking instruments that will measure
structural loads on the airframe during flight maneuvers. The F-35C is
distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with larger wing surfaces and
reinforced landing gear for greater control when operating in the
demanding carrier take-off and landing environment. (U.S. Navy photo by
Lockheed Martin Corp./Released)
The nation’s defense efforts have “understandably and justifiably”
focused on Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, Carter noted. Battling
terrorism and countering insurgency “are important things to do, and
they’re important things to bring to an end,” he added.
The deputy secretary noted U.S. forces have concluded their mission in
Iraq, and are within sight of ending combat in Afghanistan.
“We have a plan that is shared with all our coalition partners, to bring
that down -- our activity in Afghanistan -- to an enduring presence
starting in 2015,” he said.
F-35 Lightning II aircraft flies over Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April
23, 2009. The aircraft is the first of its type to visit the base, which
will be the future home of the Joint Strike Fighter training facility. (DoD
photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter, U.S. Air Force/Released)
Carter said by shifting to the Asia-Pacific resources that had been
dedicated to Iraq and Afghanistan, the rebalance can succeed “within the
constraints of the amount of money that the country is able to give us.”
President Obama and Panetta understand, he said, that as the era of Iraq
and Afghanistan ends, “we need to lift our heads up out of the foxhole
we’ve been in, look up, look around, and see what the problems … and the
security opportunities … are, that will define our future.”
“Those challenges and those opportunities are, very importantly, in the
Asia-Pacific region, which you now serve,” Carter told the troops. “So
this is where our future lies, and you, right here, right now, are a
very important part of … that great transition that this great military
is embarked upon.”
Military Vintage and current inventory aircraft perfrom a fly by during
the heritage flight portion of the air show at Naval Air Station Oceana,
Va., Sept. 9, 2007. From left to right-front to back, the F-86 Saberjet
aircraft, the P-51 Mustang aircraft; the F-22 Raptor aircraft; and the
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass
Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua Nuzzo/Released)
Carter noted his visit to the region follows trips by the president,
Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“I’m out here in their wake, to show that when they talked about
rebalancing our security effort to the Asia-Pacific theater, that we
aren’t just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk,” he said.
deputy secretary said on his week-plus travels, “I’ll be looking at our
relationships with those countries and implicitly with all of the other
countries in this area, and saying, ‘What is it that I need to go back
to Washington and make sure we’re doing on our end to hold up our
bargain with you?’”
Carter told the Pacom troops aboard the USS Missouri this is “a period,
it’s a moment in history, that you should always, as you go forward in
your lives and your careers, keep in your mind. This was an important
moment to be here, to be doing what you’re doing.”
Earlier today, Carter met at Pacom headquarters with Navy Adm. Samuel J.
Locklear III, Pacom commander, and senior representatives of the
command’s Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps components, who briefed
him on current and future operations implementing the rebalancing
The deputy secretary’s next stop is Guam, where he is scheduled to meet
with Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, other
Guamanian leaders, and U.S. military leaders.