Hagel Emphasizes Importance of Asia
Hagel Emphasizes Importance
of Asia-Pacific Partnerships
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C.
Marshall Jr., DoD News, Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – August 7, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday stressed
the importance of his trip to the Asia-Pacific region, citing strengthening
relationships and building partners’ capabilities as being among his goals.
Hagel participated in a town hall meeting with members of
U.S. European Command based at Stuttgart, Germany, during the first stop of a
trip that’s focused on protecting U.S. interests, with a special emphasis on the
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel answers
questions after speaking to service members and reporters at U.S. European
Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, Aug. 6, 2014.
DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd
Class Sean Hurt
“I’m here today, and then I’ll leave tomorrow to go to India
and spend a couple of days there,” he said. “And then on to Australia, where
I’ll meet with [Secretary of State John F. Kerry] for what’s referred to as a
‘two-plus-two’ meeting.” In those meetings, which occur regularly with various
nations, the U.S. secretary of state and secretary of defense meet with their
counterparts from another nation, Hagel explained.
The secretary told his Eucom audience that what they’re doing,
what they represent, and the challenges they face are connected to the
Asia-Pacific region and every part of the world. “We’re living at one of these
not just unprecedented and historic times, but interconnected, complicated times
that require all of us to view what we’re doing in a larger framework of
responsibilities,” he said. “It’s a bigger scope than any of us have ever had to
work in before, that presents new challenges.”
Today’s world also presents new complications, he added, as
well as a tremendous number of new possibilities never before seen.
In times like this, as in times before, the secretary said,
the quality of the Defense Department’s people and leadership are important. “It
depends on a wise, steady view of how we come at our jobs every day,” Hagel said.
“And I think every now and then we all need to be reminded of that, because we
are, as we should be, focused on what we’re doing.”
The secretary noted that Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker
visited India about a week ago to emphasize that U.S. and Indian interests are
varied and common: stability, security, economics, possibilities and freedom.
“As you all know, India represents the largest democracy in the world,” he said.
“They just had an election. They have a new government. The new prime minister
is coming to Washington to see President [Barack] Obama next month.”
Hagel said he will visit the region to work specific issues,
but added that “it’s larger than that” because the area represents tremendous
new opportunities and challenges. “We need partners,” he said. “We need
relationships. That’s the kind of world we live in, and that’s the kind of world
that we’re going to be living in.
“In Australia, that relationship between our two countries
has always been strong,” he continued. “We share many, many common interests.
And so, I look forward to having an opportunity to spend some time with the
Australians and working through some of the big issues that we have together and
certainly as specific powers representing the region.”
The defense secretary laid out what he said are the three
most important components of what the Defense Department is doing today and what
its strategic interests are as reflected in the budget and the Quadrennial
Defense Review: people, capabilities and partnerships. “No institution can
succeed or be what it can be without quality people,” Hagel said. “[For]
capabilities -- if we are going to ask our men and women to make sacrifices and
do the things you all do every year, … then we need to assure you that you’ll
have the capabilities that are required to stay ahead.”
As far as partnerships are concerned, he said, continuing to
build and enhance partners’ capabilities is going on every day within NATO, in
Europe, and also in Asia and the Pacific.
Hagel pointed to the partnership with Australia as a good
example, noting joint exercises and a rotational U.S. Marine presence in
Australia. “We’ve … recently signed an agreement with the Philippines to have a
new rotational opportunity and agreement to use a couple of their bases,” he
added. “So the more that we can help build the capacities and capabilities of
our partners all over the world, that gives them more of an opportunity not just
to defend themselves and their interests, but [also to focus] on mutual
Security and stability are the mutual interests all nations
share, Hagel said, and those interests “give us all an opportunity to succeed
and give our people opportunities to do better in their lives, educate their
children and give everybody a possibility for a better life with individual
Today’s challenging times shouldn’t surprise anyone, the
secretary said, noting that as the world continues to grow larger with more than
7 billion global citizens, boundaries essentially are meaningless when it comes
to opportunities and threats.
“We’re all going to live together, and we’re going to have to
find ways to deal with each other,” he said. “And what you do every day in our
military, in our national security apparatus, is not the only a building block,
but it’s a very important foundational piece of assuring that stability and
security in the world.”
Hagel acknowledged that it’s not always easy to look beyond
the tasks of the day to take in the big picture. “I think because we all are so
focused on what we do every day, occasionally, we don’t remind ourselves enough
of the bigger scope and responsibilities of what we have and why we do what we
do,” he said. “These times in history don’t come very often. And when you’re all
sitting at a beach somewhere or whatever you like to do, with your grandchildren
on your laps, you’ll tell them about this time. You'll have an awful lot to say,
and I think you’ll have a lot to say in a very prideful way of how you did this.
I think that's the kind of time in which we find ourselves.”
Hagel expressed his appreciation to the audience and to their
families for what they do.
“I’m personally very proud to be part of your team, to be
part of what you’re doing,” he said. “And it’s a great privilege to be doing
what we’re doing because not many people ever have a chance to make this kind of
a difference in what they do in their lives.”
For up-to-the-minute coverage of the secretary’s trip, follow
the Defense Department’s official Twitter account, @DeptofDefense.
(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on
Twitter: @MarshallDoDNews) :
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