Remarks of Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr., "United States Security Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region," University of Asia and the Pacific
Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat!
Thank you all for inviting me to be here with you today. A special thank you to President Mariano and Doctor Villegas. It is such a privilege for me to be here, among the faculty and students of this esteemed university.
I will be speaking today about United States security policy in the Asia-Pacific region and the role played by the partnership between our great countries. It is a partnership based on mutual respect, shared values, and shared responsibilities, in which we are seeking to intensify the depth and breadth of our work together - including on security issues.
By any measure, the United States is a Pacific nation. We are connected by the Pacific Ocean, and we have deep economic and cultural ties, as well as sovereign territory, in the region.
The Asia-Pacific region has experienced unprecedented economic growth and political development over the past several decades. At the same time, it is important to recall, as U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said, that this success was not a foregone conclusion. Rather, it was the result of deliberate policies and principles that we all believe are central to maintaining peace, prosperity, and stability. These include free trade, the rule of law, and the principle of resolving conflict without the use of force. In short, by following our common interests, we have increased our common security.
Today the Asia-Pacific region faces new and evolving challenges - from rising powers and failing states, to extremist violence and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Confronting these challenges is not the responsibility of any single nation. Rather, all countries have a role to play - just as we all share the fruits of international cooperation and stability in our region.
The United States' contribution is multifaceted, but I would like to highlight three key areas. First, we are strongly committed to our treaty alliances with the Philippines, Australia, Korea, Japan, and Thailand. Second, the United States maintains a robust security cooperation program with other friendly nations, including foreign assistance programs, joint training exercises, and weapons sales. Third, we are increasing our participation in regional forums such as the East Asia Summit, Trans-Pacific Partnership, and U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue.
The Philippines also plays an important role in regional security. Through the Philippine Defense Reform and Defense Transformation programs, this country's defense establishment is modernizing and tackling institutional reforms.
The Philippines hosts large bilateral military exercises, which promote interoperability between the U.S. armed forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). And among other contributions, the AFP is actively engaged in the fight against transnational terrorism, including in partnership with other ASEAN member countries.
The United States is also pleased to be supporting your fight against violent extremism through the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. Our visiting troops, which are present at the invitation of the Philippine Government, support and share information with the AFP and help develop and sustain their counterterrorism capacity.
More broadly, the United States has a wide-ranging security assistance program with the Philippines, including the provision of disaster relief services, support to Philippine maritime security efforts, and foreign assistance of more than 60 million dollars a year.
Ladies and gentlemen, working together we can sustain and improve the peace and prosperity that has flourished in the Asia-Pacific region. And I am convinced that this peace and prosperity will lead to a bright future for all of the students here with us today.
Thank you very much.