Carter: Response to Russia,
China Involves Innovation
By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Simi Valley, California — (DoD
News) — November 7, 2015 — National defense in today’s time of transition
and turbulence calls for technical as well as strategic and operational
innovation, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said here today. In a keynote speech
during the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in southern California, Carter
explained how Russia and China challenge the United States’ capacity to innovate
Defense Ash Carter fliyng in a V-22 Osprey
“Another kind of innovation for the future … is how we’re responding to
Russia, which is one source of today’s turbulence, and [the rise of China],
which is driving a transition in the Asia-Pacific,” the secretary said.
One of the pillars of his commitment to the nation as defense secretary,
Carter said, is to develop innovative strategies and operational concepts to
change how the department deters and responds to geostrategic challenges.
“We must ensure that we and our partners are postured to defeat threats from
high-end opponents in a complex set of environments,” he said. To do so requires
innovative strategies and operational plans to defend the United States and
strengthen the principled international order that has well served the United
States and its friends and allies, including Russia, China and many other
countries, for decades, Carter said.
“The principles that serve as that order’s foundation -- including peaceful
resolution of disputes, freedom from coercion, respect for state sovereignty and
freedom of navigation and overflight -- are not abstractions,” the secretary
said, “nor are they subject to the whims of any one country.” Some actors, like
the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Russia, seem intent on eroding
these principles and undercutting the international order, Carter said.
China, he added, grows more ambitious in its objectives and capabilities.
“In the face of Russia’s provocations and China’s rise,” Carter said, “we
must embrace innovative approaches to protect the United States and strengthen
that international order.” Russia is violating sovereignty in Ukraine and
Georgia and is trying to intimidate the Baltic states, and in Syria it is
prolonging a civil war, the secretary added.
“At sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace, Russian actors have engaged
in challenging activities,” he told the audience, noting that Moscow’s nuclear
saber-rattling raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic
“We do not seek to make Russia an enemy,”Carter said. “But make no mistake.
The United States will defend our interests, and our allies, the principled
international order, and the positive future it affords us all.”
Carter said the United States is modernizing its nuclear arsenal to ensure
America’s nuclear deterrent, investing in new unmanned systems, a new long-range
bomber, and innovation in technologies like the electromagnetic rail gun, lasers
and new systems for electronic warfare, space, cyberspace, and others.
“And we’re accordingly transforming our posture in Europe to be more agile
and sustainable,” the secretary said.
Approach to China
Turning to the Asia-Pacific, Carter said that for decades the United States
has helped create stability in the region, which has enabled its people,
economies and countries to prosper. “The single-most influential factor in
shaping the region’s future is how China rises and relates to the principled
order that has undergirded regional peace, stability and security,” the
As a rising power China will have growing ambitions, Carter said, but how it
behaves will be the true test of its commitment to peace and security.
Nations across the region are watching China’s actions in areas like the
maritime domain and cyberspace, and the United States is working on its own and
with allies to ensure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific as China rises,
the secretary said.
On its own, America is using its Asia-Pacific rebalance to sustain this
progress and ensure stability in the region, Carter said. “We’re putting our
best and newest assets from all services into the region. Qualitatively, we are
making heavy investments in capabilities of importance there -- subsurface
warfare, electronic warfare, space, cyber, missile defense and more,” he added.
The department is changing its operational plans and approaches to deter
aggression, fulfill its statutory obligations to Taiwan, defend allies, and
prepare for a wider-than-usual range of contingencies in the region, Carter said.
The United States is building on its political and economic engagement in the
Asia-Pacific by finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, among
others, the secretary said, and is strengthening the multilateral regional
security architecture with allies, friends and partners.
Building Capacity of Allies, Partners
“We’re building the capacity of our allies and partners,” Carter said, along
with promoting cooperation, supporting regional multilateral organizations,
modernizing alliances and deepening partnerships.
On his latest trip to Asia-Pacific, his third as defense secretary, Carter
said he heard from U.S. regional allies and partners in the region.
“We all have a fundamental stake in the security of maritime Asia, including
dynamics within the South China Sea,” he said.
The United States is concerned with land reclamation in the South China Sea
region, Carter added, and China has reclaimed more land than any other country
in the region’s history.
“The United States joins virtually everyone else in the region in being
deeply concerned about the pace and scope of land reclamation in the South China
Sea, the prospect of further militarization, [and] the potential for these
activities to increase the risk of miscalculation or conflict among claimant
states,” he said.
On Nov. 5, Carter flew out to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt
underway in the South China Sea. Last month, tThe guided-missile destroyer USS
Lassen as part of a task force with the USS Roosevelt, conducted a freedom of
navigation operation in the South China Sea in accordance with international
“We’ve done them before all over the world,” Carter said of the freedom of
navigation operation, “and we’ll do them again. We mean what we say. We will
continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”
U.S.-China relations will be complex as the nations continue to balance their
competition and cooperation, Carter said, noting that both nations have agreed
to four confidence-building agreements, including one meant to prevent dangerous
Carter said he’s accepted an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to
visit China in the New Year.
Meanwhile, the defense department works to leverage innovative strategies and
operational concepts in response to Russia’s provocations and the impact of
China’s rise, Carter said.
“We also know we have much work to do still to ensure our
strategies and plans are as innovative as possible, leveraging new technology
used by the best talent in America,” he said.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)
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