Locklear: Pacom’s Priorities Reflect New Strategic Guidance

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2012 — With clear direc­tion from Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta, the new U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand chief said he’s using the new strate­gic guid­ance as a roadmap as he sets pri­or­i­ties and engages with the region.

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Navy Adm. Samuel J. Lock­lear III, who assumed his post in March, said he feels for­tu­nate to have tak­en com­mand when the strate­gic guid­ance suc­cinct­ly defines lead­er­ship empha­sis and pri­or­i­ties across his vast area of respon­si­bil­i­ty.

“Every mil­i­tary com­man­der wants to know what is expect­ed of him or her and how to pro­ceed toward the future,” Lock­lear said dur­ing an inter­view with Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. “So the pres­i­dent and the sec­re­tary of defense have giv­en me through their strate­gic guid­ance clear direc­tion on what they want [and] what they expect to see.”

The 14-page strate­gic guid­ance, released in Jan­u­ary, rec­og­nizes chal­lenges as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties in a region that cov­ers 52 per­cent of the earth’s sur­face and includes some 3.6 bil­lion peo­ple in 36 nations. Asia and the Pacif­ic, Lock­lear not­ed, rep­re­sent half the world’s trade, a tran­sit point for most of its ener­gy sup­plies, and home to three of the world’s largest economies and most of its major mil­i­taries.

“I think the strat­e­gy is recog­ni­tion that we, as an Amer­i­can peo­ple, are a Pacif­ic nation,” as well as an Atlantic nation, the admi­ral said. “We are a Pacif­ic nation, and what hap­pens in the Asia-Pacif­ic mat­ters to us. And this strat­e­gy helps reem­pha­size that.”

In imple­ment­ing the new guid­ance, Lock­lear has out­lined five basic pri­or­i­ties for Pacom:

— Strength­en and advance alliances and part­ner­ships;
— Mature the U.S.-China mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship;
— Devel­op the U.S.-India strate­gic part­ner­ship;
— Remain pre­pared to respond to a Kore­an Penin­su­la con­tin­gency; and
— Counter transna­tion­al threats.

Alliances and part­ner­ships are key fac­tors for region­al secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty, Lock­lear said. He vowed to work to strength­en the Unit­ed States’ alliances with South Korea, Japan, the Philip­pines, Aus­tralia and Thai­land.

“These alliances are his­toric,” he said. “They under­pin our strat­e­gy in the region and they under­pin the secu­ri­ty arrange­ments in the region.”

Lock­lear not­ed promis­ing devel­op­ments with­in these alliances, such as the new Marine rota­tions in Aus­tralia and improv­ing spe­cial oper­a­tions and coun­tert­er­ror­ism capa­bil­i­ties in the Philip­pines’ armed forces.

Pacom also will focus on estab­lish­ing and build­ing part­ner­ships with oth­er nations that share the Unit­ed States’ inter­est in secu­ri­ty and eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty and increas­ing­ly, human rights, he said.

“We are going to put more time and effort into mak­ing sure that those rela­tion­ships are built for the future,” the admi­ral said.

Lock­lear rec­og­nized the Unit­ed States’ already-strong mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ties with Sin­ga­pore and its “very much improv­ing” rela­tion­ships with Indone­sia.

In addi­tion, the Unit­ed States wants a long-term strate­gic rela­tion­ship with India, a large region­al democ­ra­cy and ris­ing eco­nom­ic pow­er that’s also increas­ing in mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty.

“We hope to part­ner with them to share the strate­gic land­scape as it applies to how we apply secu­ri­ty to the globe that allows pros­per­i­ty and peace, free­dom of move­ment and allows pros­per­i­ty in the world,” the admi­ral said.

Lock­lear said he also hopes to strength­en mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions with Chi­na. Chi­na is an emerg­ing pow­er with many sig­nif­i­cant deci­sions to make, he said, adding that the Unit­ed States would like to play a role in help­ing influ­ence those deci­sions in a way that pro­motes a secure glob­al envi­ron­ment.

“One way to do that is to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter,” Lock­lear said. “The last thing you want to have is mis­cal­cu­la­tion between large mil­i­taries.”

One way to build trust and con­fi­dence between those mil­i­taries, Lock­lear said, is through mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary oper­a­tions.

“You learn to oper­ate togeth­er, you learn to coop­er­ate, you learn about each other’s fam­i­lies. You get a per­son­al view of each oth­er” that can pay off in help­ing resolve any dif­fer­ences that may arise.

Lock­lear said North Korea looms as the most-press­ing trou­ble spot. Its new, untest­ed leader and its pur­suit of nuclear weapons in defi­ance of U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions and world pres­sure cre­ate a ten­u­ous, unsta­ble sit­u­a­tion.

“If there is any­thing that keeps me awake at night, it’s that par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion,” the admi­ral said. “We have to ensure that we main­tain as much of a sta­ble envi­ron­ment on the Kore­an Penin­su­la as we can.”

Transna­tion­al threats pose anoth­er con­cern and area of empha­sis for Pacom. Lock­lear iden­ti­fied cyber threats as the most daunt­ing, not­ing the impor­tance of secure net­works not only for Pacom’s mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, but also for region­al sta­bil­i­ty and eco­nom­ic via­bil­i­ty.

The admi­ral said his command’s Cyber Pacif­ic orga­ni­za­tion is work­ing close­ly with U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand and U.S. Cyber Com­mand to iden­ti­fy bet­ter ways to defend Pacom’s net­works.

“No mat­ter what hap­pens out there on the Inter­net and Face­book, we still have to be able to oper­ate the net­works that allow us to pro­duce com­bat pow­er,” Lock­lear said. “And so one of my pri­or­i­ty jobs is to ensure those [com­mand] net­works will sur­vive when they have to sur­vive.”

Ter­ror­ism is anoth­er major con­cern for Pacom, the admi­ral said, as vio­lent extrem­ists increas­ing­ly seek safe havens in the Asia-Pacif­ic region. Lock­lear said he rec­og­nizes the need to con­tin­ue adapt­ing U.S. forces to deal with the chal­lenge.

“In the ter­ror­ist world, as you squeeze on one side of the bal­loon, it pops out some­where else. [Ter­ror­ists] look for areas of oppor­tu­ni­ty. And they find areas of oppor­tu­ni­ty in places that are dis­en­fran­chised, that have poor economies and oppor­tu­ni­ty to change the mind­set of the peo­ple look­ing for a bet­ter life but don’t know how to get it.”

Lock­lear said the kind of envi­ron­ment the Unit­ed States and its allies and part­ners in the region are work­ing to pro­mote is the best response.

“In the long run, the solu­tion for that, I think, is pros­per­i­ty, and the gen­er­al sense of secu­ri­ty that makes it so that these ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions can’t thrive.”

Lock­lear also not­ed the prob­lem of nar­cotics, par­tic­u­lar­ly metham­phet­a­mine pro­duc­tion in the region, which pro­vides the financ­ing for ter­ror­ists to oper­ate.

“We are see­ing an increas­ing amount of that activ­i­ty. And that mon­ey, we know, goes to the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions,” he said. “So we are going to have to make sure we keep our focus pret­ty tight­ly on this, because that transna­tion­al threat is equal or more dam­ag­ing to our nation­al secu­ri­ty than any of the oth­ers.”

In lead­ing Pacom’s response to these threats, Lock­lear not­ed the pos­i­tive impact of more than six decades of U.S. pres­ence in the region.

“The U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence in the Asia-Pacif­ic has pro­vid­ed the secu­ri­ty infra­struc­ture that basi­cal­ly under­pins the secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment which has led to an envi­ron­ment that allowed … emerg­ing economies [and] emerg­ing nations to thrive — from Japan to Korea to Aus­tralia to the Philip­pines to Chi­na, to the U.S.,” Lock­lear said. “We are part of that.”

Pacom’s activ­i­ties today will have a long-term impact for the future, the admi­ral said.

“We have tremen­dous inter­est that will car­ry for­ward, not just to the near term, but to our chil­dren and our grand­chil­dren and their chil­dren,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)