Allies,Innovation Key to US Competition12/05 08:53
The Pentagon intends to work better with private industry to develop
high-tech systems and to strengthen relations with allies in the Indo-Pacific
region in order to maintain a competitive edge over China, Defense Secretary
Lloyd Austin said Saturday.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon intends to work better with private industry
to develop high-tech systems and to strengthen relations with allies in the
Indo-Pacific region in order to maintain a competitive edge over China, Defense
Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Austin said
recent military activity and aggressive moves by China in the region, including
near the self-ruled island of Taiwan, are disturbing. And while he said the
U.S. is still committed to the longstanding "One China" policy, it is working
to bolster Taiwan's ability to defend itself.
"We're clear eyed about the challenge that China presents. But China is not
10 feet tall. This is America," said Austin. "America isn't a country that
fears competition. And we're going to beat this one with confidence and resolve
and not panic and pessimism."
Austin's speech comes as the U.S. struggles to counter China's growing
military and economic power, and its advancements in space, cyber and nuclear
capabilities, while also avoiding direct conflict. Tensions between the two
nations have spiked as China has dispatched an increasing number of fighter
jets toward Taiwan, fueling worries about a possible invasion, even as the U.S.
and its allies sail warships though the Taiwan Strait.
America's "One China" policy recognizes Beijing as the government of China
but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
Asked whether China's moves around Taiwan appear to be training for
potential future military operations, Austin said it certainly "looks a lot
like them exploring their true capabilities and, sure, that it looks a lot like
rehearsing." But, he added that the U.S. doesn't want a conflict with China, so
it's important for the nations' militaries to communicate more and be
Austin arrived in California after a visit to South Korea, his third trip to
the Indo-Pacific region since taking over as defense chief earlier this year.
He told the defense forum that private companies struggle to get through
Pentagon red tape when developing new technologies, and the department has to
make it easier to break through the barriers. He said the Pentagon needs to get
advances in unmanned systems, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence into
the hands of U.S. forces more quickly.
Austin said the U.S. must also strengthen its network of allies and partners
in the Pacific region.
"We're not seeking an Asian version of NATO or trying to build an anti-China
coalition. And we're not asking countries to choose between the United States
and China," Austin said. "Instead, we're working to advance an international
system that is free and stable and open."
The Pentagon just released its new global posture review, which made no
immediate major changes in the global positioning of U.S. forces, but it did
include plans to improve infrastructure in some parts of the Pacific, including
Guam and Australia. In September the U.S. announced a new partnership with
Australia and Britain to deepen security, diplomatic and defense cooperation in
the Asia-Pacific region. As part of that AUKUS partnership, Australia is to
acquire nuclear-powered submarines, and the U.S. is to increase rotational
force deployments to Australia.