Building Old Ties, and New Ones

The United States needs to build a “tangible presence” in the Western Pacific, especially with traditional allies and its more nascent partnerships, to maintain the peace in areas like the South China Sea, said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. Speaking Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at a Center for a New American Security-sponsored event, Greenert said the Navy will work with traditional allies, such as Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines to maintain presence at bases from which US ships operate, places from which they rotate, and crossroads like the Straits of Malacca. The Navy puts its “best stuff” forward in the Pacific, and has plans to increase its presence based on the Obama Administration’s new defense guidance, said Greenert. But the sea service is most interested in building regular presence and interoperability with its “high-end allies” who have interests in maintaining a equitable order in the South China Sea, such as Singapore and Australia, he said. At the same time, it must broaden its multilateral efforts in places like Southeast Asia, and recognize that some alliances will be more deliberate—such as the nascent warming of military ties with Vietnam, said Greenert.