India deeply appreciates US' engagement in Asia-Pacific: Ashton Carter

Washington: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has said new ways of investing and operating were required to tackle five evolving strategic challenges that America is facing even as he termed India as a "new friend" which "deeply appreciated" its engagement in the Asia-Pacific.

"We are entering a new strategic era. Today's security environment is dramatically different from the last 25 years, requiring new ways of investing and operating. Five evolving strategic challenges, namely: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorism are now driving DOD's planning and budgeting as reflected in this budget," Carter told members of the Senate Armed Service Committee during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

However, at this moment IS poses the greatest threat to the US, he said, adding that the US-led international coalition is determined to defeat the terrorist outfit.

A file photo of Ashton Carter. Reuters

A file photo of Ashton Carter. Reuters

"I want to focus first on our ongoing fight against terrorism and especially ISIL, which we must and will deal a lasting defeat, most immediately in its parent tumour in Iraq and Syria, but also where it is metastasising. And all the while, we're continuing to help protect our homeland," he said.

China in the Asia-Pacific is behaving aggressively, he said. "There, we're continuing our re-balance to the region to maintain the stability we've underwritten for the past 70 years, enabling so many nations to rise and prosper in this, the single most consequential region of the world for America's future," he said.

"As I saw in India and the Philippines at the beginning of my trip, our engagement in the Asia-Pacific is deeply appreciated and in high demand by enduring allies and new friends alike," he added.

Carter said two other longstanding challenges pose threats in specific regions. North Korea is one. And that's why our forces on the Korean peninsula remain ready, as they say, to fight tonight, he said.

"The other is in Iran, because while the nuclear accord is a good deal for preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, we must still deter Iranian aggression and counter Iran's malign influence against our regional friends and allies, especially Israel, to which we maintain an unwavering and unbreakable commitment, and also our Gulf partners, with whom I met last week in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh," Carter said.

Addressing all of these five challenges requires new investments on the part of US, a new posture in some regions, and also new and enhanced capabilities, he said.

"For example, we know we must deal with these challenges across all domains, not just the usual air, land and sea, but also especially in cyber, electronic warfare and space, where our reliance on technology has given us great strengths and great opportunities, but also led to vulnerabilities that adversaries are eager to exploit," he said.

"Key to our approach is being able to deter our most advanced competitors. We must have and be seen to have the ability to ensure that anyone who starts a conflict with us will regret having done so. In our budget, our capabilities, our readiness and our actions, we must and will be prepared for a high-end enemy, what we call full spectrum," Carter said.

In this context, Russia and China are America's most stressing competitors, as they've both developed and continue to advance military systems that seek to threaten American advantages in specific area.

"We see them in Crimea, Syria and the South China Sea. In some cases, they're developing weapons and ways of war that seek to achieve their objectives rapidly, before they think we can respond. Because of this, Department of Defense has elevated their importance in our planning and budgeting," Carter said.

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Updated Date: Apr 28, 2016 07:52:58 IST

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