U.S. rebalance to Asia-Pacific gaining steam, Pentagon chief says

Sat Jun 1, 2013 12:03am EDT
 

By David Alexander

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The U.S. military will devote more air power, ground troops and high-tech weaponry to the Asia-Pacific region as it moves ahead with a strategic rebalance, the U.S. defense chief said on Saturday in a speech that accused China of cyber incursions.

In remarks laying out his vision for regional security, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel assured allies and partners at the annual Shangri-La Security Dialogue in Singapore that the United States was fully able to continue its strategic pivot to the region despite budget constraints at home.

"It would be unwise and short-sighted to conclude ... that our commitment to the rebalance cannot be sustained," he said in prepared remarks, noting the United States represented 40 percent of global defense spending even under the "most extreme budget scenarios."

Hagel sketched out some of the region's thorniest security issues, including North Korea's effort to develop nuclear weapons and missiles, competing territorial claims in the seas around China and disruptive activity in space and cyberspace.

While noting U.S. concerns about cyber intrusions linked to the Chinese government and military, Hagel underscored his belief that resolving many regional security issues would require closer cooperation between Washington and Beijing.

"Building a positive and constructive relationship with China is ... an essential part of America's rebalance to Asia," he said. "While the U.S. and China will have our differences ... the key is for those differences to be addressed on the basis of a continuous and respectful dialogue."

On Friday, Hagel said cyber threats posed a "quiet, stealthy, insidious" danger to the United States and other nations, and called for "rules of the road" to guide behavior and avoid conflict on global computer networks.

CHINA QUESTIONS U.S. MILITARY FOCUS   Continued...

 
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during the first plenary session of the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore June 1, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su