International Institute for Strategic Studies

U.S. Department of Defense Speeches, June 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

International Institute for Strategic Studies


Remarks as delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Singapore, Friday, June 01, 2007.

Thank you, John.

It is a special pleasure to be in Singapore to attend this conference, the premier forum for exchanging views on security in the Asia Pacific region in a setting aptly named Shangri-La. As one of the most prosperous and stable nations in the world, Singapore has emerged as a key contributor to security in the region, a strategic partner of the United States, and a valued friend to most of the nations represented here today.

This morning I would like to offer some thoughts on key issues relating to Asian security to include the importance of Central Asia while providing some broader historical perspective to inform our discussion.

From its inception as a young republic, the United States has been a Pacific nation. Over the past century we have paid a significant price in blood and treasure to fight aggression, deter potential adversaries, extend freedom, and maintain the peace and prosperity of this part of the world. We have strong interests in all points of the Asian compass East, South, Southeast, Northeast and Central spanning the entire spectrum of economic, political and security relations. Our engagement in Asia has been central to Americas approach to global security for many decades through multiple administrations of both political parties. It remains no less so today, and will become increasingly so in the decades to come.

Some people have suggested that the United States maybe neglecting Asia, because we have been too focused on Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hot spots. In reality, far from neglecting Asia, the U.S. is more engaged than ever before. We have been extraordinarily busy in recent years as we reshape and strengthen our security ties based on shared interests.

Some are bilateral relationships that have been formed, renewed, or modernized each with varying types and degrees of cooperation. Others are the regional arrangements that have formed with our support to deal with common challenges.

America's longstanding alliances in Northeast Asia are being transformed to fit the realities of the 21st Century. The Republic of Korea, with a large, modern military and one of the world's strongest economies, is assuming more responsibility for its own defense while the United States reduces its military footprint. We are realigning and repositioning our forces in Japan while cooperating in new areas such as missile defense. These moves towards achieving a more balanced security partnership should be interpreted as strengthening America's commitment to the defense of two of our closest and long-standing allies. Indeed, in carefully calibrating and refining each of these important relationships, we are guided by one overarching principle: to make each relationship more relevant, more resilient, more responsive, and more enduring.

India and the United States shared an uneven co-existence for much of the Cold War, but since the 2005 summit between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Singh, we have expanded ties with India the worlds largest democracy and a developing global leader.

Formerly Communist Mongolia, has, despite its small population, supported United Nations missions in Africa, and has completed several troop rotations to Afghanistan and Iraq. There is the welcome reestablishment of military to military relations with Indonesia and Pakistan after they were cut off in the late 1990s. Both of these nations have vital roles to play in overcoming jihadist terrorism.

In addition to reinvigorating bilateral ties and forging new partnerships, the U.S. has also been active in key regional initiatives in the areas of counterterrorism, non-proliferation, missile defense, maritime security, and crisis response.

Terrorist attacks in Bali and the Philippines as well as other plots that were foiled including right here in Singapore have made it clear that we need to work together to counter violent extremist networks. …

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