An expert at the Pentagon claims that the US Indo-Pacific Strategy is succeeding.

World News

According to Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, the past year has been genuinely historic in the Indo-Pacific area, and the Defence Department hopes to keep making progress in that direction.

from DoD News

At the Defence News Conference in Arlington, Virginia, the assistant secretary stated, “We are delivering on our objective for a free and open Indo-Pacific and clearly increasing deterrence in the region.

Ratner talked about the regional developments, the requirement for dialogue between Chinese and American defence officials, and the necessity of maintaining bipartisan support for the American Indo-Pacific strategy.

According to Ratner, the implementation of American policy in the Indo-Pacific has evolved over the past year “in terms of fortifying our foreign defence perimeter.” With Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin III making eight trips there, including his first trip as secretary to Japan, South Korea, and India in February 2021, the region is directly at the centre of Pentagon concerns.

Since they are based on the same principles that have maintained peace in the Indo-Pacific since the end of World War II, American initiatives have gained traction in the region.

According to him, military to military ties between the United States and the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other ASEAN nations have improved. Ratner asserted that “our alliances and partnerships with those nations are stronger than they have ever been.” The net result is that we have been working with them on a variety of projects that have… resulted in a more dispersed, mobile, resilient, and lethal [U.S.] force posture in the area.”

In addition, the US military has made great efforts “to develop the capabilities they need to defend themselves to be able to contribute more to our alliances,” according to Ratner.

These connections go beyond simple bilateral ones. Ratner stated that “we have been busy linking these relationships together like never before.” Countries in the region are collaborating with one another in ways that were unthinkable only a few short years ago.

One factor for the rise in collaboration among like-minded countries is China’s attitude in the region.

China is the biggest threat to the United States. That has been reflected, according to Ratner, in the budget, the way we approach force posture, and the kinds of concepts we are creating as part of our collaboration with partners and allies. “That will keep happening.”

This is so because, in Ratner’s words, “China is the only country with both the will and, increasingly, the capability to overthrow the international order and refashion it to suit its authoritarian interests in ways that would undermine the interests of the United States.”

The assistant secretary stressed the importance of communication between American and Chinese defence officials. Defence Secretary Austin’s requests have been rejected by Chinese leaders.

Ratner claimed to have spoken with Chinese equivalents, and Navy Adm. John Aquilino, the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke with his Chinese counterpart last month when attending a chiefs of defence gathering in Fiji. Although he acknowledged the value of those interactions, he said that “I don’t think those are a substitute for leader-level engagement in terms of ministerial level engagement.”

With the proviso that they not be held hostage to political posturing, Ratner said he would want to see the serious exchanges and discussions the US military has had with China’s army restart. To “share concerns that we have about PRC [People’s Republic of China] operational behaviour in the region,” he said, defence leaders would like to.

Unsafe intercepts “against the United States and its allies and partners in the region” have significantly increased, according to Ratner. These involve risky manoeuvres around American and ally aircraft, as well as up-close approaches.

“We do need a mechanism to be able to talk about this behaviour and communicate from the U.S. side,” he declared.

These actions won’t prevent the United States or its allies from conducting operations in the area. “It’s dangerous, and the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has got to knock it off,” he declared.

Ratner concluded by addressing the bipartisan support for the American strategy in the area. With our allies and partners, we are having discussions that, in part, have a lengthy trajectory and will take time to develop, he said. “In every, almost every, one of these relationships—whether it’s South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, and others—we’re moving out right now.”

For instance, there will be yearly trilateral meetings between the United States, South Korea, and Japan. Components of the new agreements with Australia, the Philippines, and India will take years to implement. Cross-party support is required for these.

“What I will say is that, in my experience, engaging with Capitol Hill, other Republican leaders, there is strong bipartisan support for our position in the Indo-Pacific and strong bipartisan support for our focus on the PRC as the pacing challenge,” the official added.

News from the US Defence Department is published by DoD News.

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