Mullen: United States Stands Firm on Stable Pacific Region

MELBOURNE, Aus­tralia, Nov. 7, 2010 — Navy Adm. Mike Mullen has called the 21st cen­tu­ry the “Pacif­ic cen­tu­ry,” and U.S. inter­ests in the region will be under­scored here tomor­row when he and oth­er lead­ers hold talks as part of the annu­al Australian‑U.S. Min­is­te­r­i­al.

The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said the U.S. rela­tion­ship with Aus­tralia is a key cog in mak­ing the cen­tu­ry suc­cess­ful. “How we should work togeth­er is all a part of these dis­cus­sions,” he told reporters trav­el­ing with him ahead of the meetings. 

Mullen wants to improve mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions with Chi­na, and plans to dis­cuss that with his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part who has had suc­cess in that area. “I real­ly want to put some­thing in place that’s going to work, and I real­ly want to know more about them and I’d like to get an assess­ment of their capa­bil­i­ties and how they are evolv­ing over time,” he said. 

Chi­na is a ris­ing Pacif­ic pow­er­house, but the rise of Chi­na, as well as India, does not mean the Unit­ed States will walk away from the region, Mullen said. “We’ve had long-stand­ing rela­tion­ships” in the Pacif­ic, he said. “It’s a crit­i­cal eco­nom­ic area, and peace and sta­bil­i­ty in this part of the world is absolute­ly vital, and we’re not going to cede that to anyone.” 

In fact, Mullen said, “I real­ly hope we can get to a sol­id mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship with [Chi­na].” A good rela­tion­ship would allow the Unit­ed States and Chi­na to dis­cuss areas they agree on, and try to bridge the gaps in areas they don’t. But on-again, off-again rela­tions halt progress and sew dis­trust, he said. 

Oth­er key dis­cus­sions are to include Australia’s role in mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Afghanistan, and its help in main­tain­ing secu­ri­ty in Cyberspace. 

Aus­tralia has more than 1,500 ser­vice­mem­bers in Afghanistan, most­ly in the cen­tral province of Uruz­gan. The Aus­tralian con­tri­bu­tion is sub­stan­tial, with the coun­try being the largest non-NATO troop donor. 

The lead­ers also will dis­cuss India, which Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma is vis­it­ing. “India is a ris­ing pow­er and a glob­al eco­nom­ic pow­er,” Mullen said. “When you are sit­ting in Aus­tralia and you look to the west, it’s hard not to notice the Indi­an Ocean, and I think this part of the world will become more sig­nif­i­cant in the decades to come.” 

Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty is one aspect of con­cern to both coun­tries. “I think it’s impor­tant for civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­ers to rec­og­nize and address the cyber issues,” he said. 

The U.S. mil­i­tary stood up U.S. Cyber Com­mand this year and U.S. and Aus­tralian lead­ers have been dis­cussing the sit­u­a­tion for years. Mullen believes the ways the Unit­ed States and Aus­tralia already share infor­ma­tion will make it easy to work togeth­er in the cyber realm. 

“I actu­al­ly am very opti­mistic on the begin­nings of this whole sys­tem and how we begin that with the Aus­tralians and how we move it for­ward,” Mullen said. 

“This is a threat that knows no bound­aries,” he said of threats to net­work com­put­er sys­tems. “It’s very per­va­sive and very dan­ger­ous. From my per­spec­tive, the threat sends the mes­sage that all of us bet­ter fig­ure out how to work together.” 

The lead­ers will dis­cuss improv­ing coop­er­a­tion dur­ing human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tions. On the way to Aus­tralia, the chairman’s plane refu­eled at Pago Pago in Amer­i­can Samoa. “I was remind­ed about the tsuna­mi that hit there last year,” he said. “They trag­i­cal­ly lost 200 peo­ple and [had] mil­lions of dol­lars of dam­age. Aus­tralia was just one of the nations that helped out.” 

There has been a drum­beat of recent dis­as­ters in the Pacif­ic rim, includ­ing the 2004 tsuna­mi, the Pak­istan earth­quake, the erup­tion of vol­ca­noes in Indone­sia, typhoons hit­ting the Philip­pines and cyclones hit­ting Bur­ma. “The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has very pos­i­tive­ly respond­ed to help­ing,” Mullen said. “In this part of the world … we are very involved with mul­ti-coun­try exer­cis­es that focus on human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief. It is very easy to put together.” 

Mullen will join Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates at the dis­cus­sions. For­eign Min­is­ter Kevin Rudd, Defense Min­is­ter Steven Smith and Air Chief Mar­shal Angus Hous­ton, the chief of the defense force will rep­re­sent Aus­tralia. It is Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Julia Gillard’s first min­is­te­r­i­al since tak­ing office in June. Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States have been allies since World War I and close allies since World War II. “They’ve fought in every war with us for a long time, Mullen said. Aus­tralia has con­tributed troops and trea­sure to Korea, Viet­nam, Iraq and Afghanistan. They have also worked side by side with Amer­i­can ser­vice­mem­bers in trou­ble spots from Africa to Koso­vo to East Timor. 

The min­is­te­r­i­al “sends a strong sig­nal just how impor­tant the rela­tion­ship is, and how impor­tant this part of the world is,” Mullen said. 

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

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →