Panetta Embarks on Asia Trip

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on May 30 left from JB, Andrews, Md., on a week-long trip through Asia, his second official visit to the region since assuming office last year. This trip will emphasize what have become standard talking points from the Pentagon and White House: the United States is a Pacific power and will remain one, and the region’s nations have prospered behind the shield of stability and security that the United States has provided, defense officials told reporters on the eve of Panetta’s trip. “The core of what we’re trying to do in this swing . . . is give a comprehensive account to everyone in the region about what the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific [region] will mean in practice,” said one defense official. Panetta will meet with US Pacific Command boss Adm. Samuel Locklear at PACOM headquarters in Honolulu, and will then fly to Singapore where he will present a policy speech on the new US defense strategy at the 10th annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference, said the officials. (AFPS report by Jim Garamone)