While U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Korea on the 30th, the U.S. Department of Defense stressed the alliance with South Korea and the Philippines, mentioning China and North Korea’s threat to peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
On the 29th (local time), DOD News, a Pentagon media outlet, reported that “Secretary Austin looks forward to continuing to expand the scope of cooperation across multiple domains, including cyberspace, both in Korea and in the Philippines.”
“Secretary Austin will focus on interoperability with allies during this trip,” a senior Pentagon official said. We are strengthening our partnerships with our allies in the region to ensure that our deterrence is stronger than ever before.”
In particular, the media cited China’s destabilizing behavior, including swarms of maritime militia ships in disputed areas in the South China Sea, as well as “a significant increase in dangerous air-to-air interceptions,” noting that the security environment in the region is destabilizing in relation to China’s operational behavior.
Regarding North Korea, he added, “Last year, an unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches and an increase in provocations, such as the threat of nuclear weapons testing, are disturbing peace.”
At the same time, a high-ranking official said that the ROK and US forces would strengthen joint preparedness training, including live ammunition training.
Meanwhile, regarding the Philippines, which he plans to visit following South Korea, he emphasized the importance of the alliance between the two countries by mentioning joint military exercises.
In particular, the media explained that the Pentagon is considering modernizing its alliance with the Philippines against the emerging threat from China.
According to the media, this is Secretary Austin’s sixth visit to the Indo-Pacific region. The last time I met with the representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was in Siem Reap, Cambodia in November last year.