Guam – U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Robert Willard says the Defense Department’s new focus on the Pacific does not necessarily mean establishing new military bases in the region.
In remarks before the Foreign Press Club in Washington D.C. Friday, Adm Willard said the U.S. has no desire to seek additional basing options anywhere in the Asia-Pacific theater.
Willard said the U.S. welcomes the opportunities afforded by Singapore and Australia to rotate forces in and out of the region which allows the U.S. to maintain its presence, without having to sustain that presence at sea at greater cost.
When asked directly if the U.S. would ever re-establish a permanent base at Subic Bay in the Philippines he said that is highly unlikely.
“We are interested in the Philippines in a maritime sense becoming increasingly self-sufficient, and we’ll help where we can,” he said, but emphasized that “there is no desire nor view right now that the U.S. is seeking basing options anywhere in the Asia-Pacific theater.”
Willard also said the U.S. continues working to establish closer military-to-military ties with China.
The relationship is “sustaining itself” at the strategic level he said, but he hopes to be able to advance it to the operational and tactical levels.
“I’m gratified that at the strategic level, that dialogue has persisted. I’m not satisfied that the military relationship is where it needs to be.”