Joint Chiefs Chairman Dunford reassures Asian allies U.S. in region to stay

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford recently traveled throughout Asia on a tour meant to reassure America’s allies in the region that the U.S. remains committed to them and the enforcement of the rules-based international order that has been in place since the end of World War II.

“We have an alliance with South Korea. We have one with the Philippines. We have one with Japan. We have one with Thailand. We have one with Australia,” he said. “And our force posture and presence here, and our level of readiness, and the level of interoperability that … we’ve developed … allows us to meet our alliance commitments.”

In terms of regional security, the American presence “is underlying the rules-based international order that for the last 70 years everybody has benefited from,” he said. “And what we’re doing now is we’re modernizing our force, we’re modernizing our presence in the region, and we’re enhancing our relationships in the region to ensure that we have another 70 years of peace in the rules-based international order.”

PACOM has 60 percent of the entire U.S. Air Force at its disposal. That is in addition to 60 percent of the U.S. Navy’s fleet. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Pacific command has been upgraded to a four-star level. [source]

Analysis: Dunford is the latest ranking member of the U.S. political and military leadership to visit the Asian region since Donald Trump became president. He follows Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the region, all of whom have worked to counter Chinese narratives that the U.S. is a declining power and that Beijing is the new Asian power broker. Certainly, the United States and its regional allies don’t want an armed conflict with China, but neither do they want to cede territory or the rules-based international order to a rising power, either, which would be even more dangerous and more likely to lead to conflict. Dunford’s trip — and visits by America’s top political, military and diplomatic leaders before him — are meant to reassure not only our allies but China as well that Washington is not in any way preparing to abandon the Asia-Pacific region.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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