DOD News Briefing with Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon

October 25, 2012

  • 25 octombrie 2012

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON E. PANETTA:  Good afternoon.

We wanted to, if we could, open with a few comments, and then I’ll turn it over to General Dempsey for his comments, and then we’ll open it up to your questions.

One of the questions that I’ve consistently been asked is how the U.S. military is going to be able to project power and to maintain presence in a global world in an era of declining resources.

We believe that the new defense strategy that we put in place, plus the budget that we have sent up to the Congress is designed to allow us to accomplish that goal.

But one important way that we are going to do this is to strengthen our network of defense alliances around the globe. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that a vital pillar of the new defense strategy that we released this year is the important work of developing and deepening ties to other nations — developing their capabilities and building new alliances and partnerships to promote security.

This is one of the keys to the defense force that we’re trying to build for the 21st century.

This system of defense alliances and security partnerships is one of America’s greatest national security assets. No other nation in the world really has this asset.

These relationships are sound investments in an era of fiscal challenges and they really do pay dividends.  They allow us to defend our interests, while developing more militaries that can shoulder the burden of the international security environment.

Let me give you a few examples of how we’ve been refocusing our attention on these alliances.

Yesterday, as you know, I met with my South Korean counterpart, Defense Minister Kim, as part of our regular dialogue with allies in the Asia-Pacific region. Our goal there is to continue to strengthen the 60-year alliance that we have with the South Koreans for the future.

Earlier this month I consulted with a number of our European allies and ISAF partner nations at the NATO defense ministerial, where we came together to affirm our commitment to the international mission in Afghanistan.

NATO is a proven alliance, one that has conducted successful operations in Libya, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Before the NATO meeting, I met with my counterparts from the Western Hemisphere as part of the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas. And at that conference, nations of this hemisphere agreed on a concrete plan to improve humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, really one of the first steps that that ministerial group has taken, in a way that brings all of these nations together.

What they did reflects a new era, I believe, of broad and constructive defense cooperation in the Americas.

Our goal is to continue these efforts.  Early — in early November, General Dempsey and I will be traveling to Australia to participate in the annual AUSMIN meeting with Secretary Clinton and our — and our Australian counterparts. And I’ll be meeting with Asian defense ministers in Cambodia at the Asian defense ministers meeting.

General Dempsey will also be traveling soon to the Middle East, and before he previews that trip, let me just note that this month the U.S. military and the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting an exercise called Austere Challenge. It’s the largest exercise we have held between our two militaries.

The goal of this historic three-week exercise is to improve our combined ability to defend against missile attacks by exercising our active missile defense and air defense forces and systems.

As with all of the exercises that we conduct alongside our allies and partners, this is all about teamwork and making sure that our forces have the capability to be able to cooperate when necessary.

Using rotational deployments under our new defense strategy, we will be conducting more of these kinds of exercises with nations across the globe.

If I may, then, I’d like to briefly turn to another subject, which is closer to home. When Congress returns to town after the election, there is a great deal of critical work that needs to be done — work that is vital to the defense strategy that I just referenced.  There are four things that stand out for Congress to take up during this upcoming session.

First, Congress must act to avert sequestration before it takes effect on Jan. 2, 2013.  There are only 70 days until that happens, and Congress is certainly on the clock when it comes to that potential sequestration occurring.

Second, Congress should pass — we’d like them to pass a defense authorization bill.  I’d like them to pass an appropriation — a defense appropriations bill, too.  But in the very least we really do need a defense authorization bill so that we can continue to implement our new defense strategy.

And, third, it really must pass a Cybersecurity bill — Cybersecurity legislation.  As I made clear this month, we really do need strong Cybersecurity legislation to ensure that we can help defend the nation against a cyber attack.

And lastly, I’m hopeful, obviously, that General John Allen, General Joe Dunford will be confirmed in their new positions at that time. We’ll have the opportunity to hear from both of them in their conformation testimony on the important work that lies ahead in Afghanistan. But I want to thank Congress for taking up these important nominations and, hopefully, they will be confirmed.

This is a full agenda.  It’s one that requires Democrats and Republicans to work together. And after a tough national election the American people, I think, will expect both parties to roll up their sleeves, work together to solve the problems facing the nation, and to protect our national security.

With that, let me turn it over to Marty Dempsey.

GENERAL MARTIN E. DEMPSEY:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

As you mentioned, I just finished hosting the 36th annual Military Committee Meeting with my Korean counterpart General Jung. We use this annual forum to reinforce our commitment to a combined defense to keep our capabilities and plans aligned and to guarantee that we are always ready in the event of a North Korean provocation.

We also assessed progress toward what we call Strategic Alliance 2015. Thanks to the steady leadership of General Jung and our combined forces commander, General J.D. Thurman, it is on track to become a reality. I look forward to seeing them both again soon.

As part of my trip to Australia, I’ll be stopping on the peninsula to spend time with our troops on Veterans Day. As mentioned, I also head to Israel in just a few days to reinforce another essential relationship. This is a long-planned trip, and it’s timed to observe the Austere Challenge exercise.

This exercise integrates our air, land and sea-borne missile defense capabilities with Israel’s anti-missile forces. I look forward to observing our combined forces with my Israeli counterpart, with Lieutenant General Benny Gantz. As always, I look forward to getting his perspective on regional security issues.

Each of these relationships run deep. Trust reinforces our common interests. Confidence reinforces our combined capabilities. And it’s this kind of trust and confidence that makes our strategy work.

Full transcript of  briefing can be read here

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