Thursday, September 17, 2009

What will Asia-Pacific look like in 2030?

...that's the question on everyone's mind for the U.S. Pacific Command hosted "Pacific Horizons" Conference September 21-23.

In this first-ever event, the Pacific Horizons Conference dares to explore what the Asia-Pacific will look like in 20 years. Well known government and academic experts from across the region will be in attendance to provide a broad perspective on the potential future of Asia-Pacific and facilitate discussions on the challenges and opportunities in the region.

PACOM has been an advocate for peace and a committed partner in the Asia-Pacific region for 60 years and understands that a good partnership is founded on good communication. And good communication isn't just about talking, it's about listening. The discussions before, during, and after, this conference will help PACOM to "listen" to and understand the region. Through a shared appreciation of Asia Pacific cultures, needs and hopes for the future, PACOM will improve its strategic planning process and make more informed policy and execution decisions for the future and beyond.

What do you think the future challenges and opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region are?

We'd like to "listen" to our readers out there as well. Your input will be considered for discussion during the conference itself, so talk! We'll listen :)

GUEST BLOGGER: Aileen Valones, PACOM Office of Communication Integration


Jaynard said...

I always thought of USPACOM as more of a defense and security group. I know they reach out to communities as well. What kinds of decisions and policies do they enforce?

Anonymous said...

I beleive the challenges in the region are : How to contain North Korea ? How do we deal with the spread of Islamist fundementalism with its' typically anti-US sentiment ? What is our position regarding the continued independence of Taiwan ? The "elephant in the room" of course is China. Our relationship with China will certainly influence the outcomes of questions #1 & #3. The trick would seem to be our ability to play both sides of the street due to the polarity of the issues. It would be interesting to hear an official view on the subjects.

James Conway

sradick said...

Predicting what something will look like in this technology-driven world even 5 years into the future is difficult, but 20 years from now is almost impossible. From my vantage point here on the East Coast, I think the Asia-Pacific region is going to go through many of the same changes that other geographical regions are - more globalization. There's going to be less and less of a focus on "Asia-Pacific" as a physical region and more of a focus on their unique cultural and political attributes. In 20 years, someone's physical location is going to be almost irrelevant as technology makes it possible to connect with people regardless of their physical locations. Your commanding officer may be 3000 miles away, but you see him and talk with him more than someone who works in the office right next to you. In the future, regions will be aligned by who knows that culture the best rather than simply by the people who live there. In that sense, the Asia-Pacific region will be comprised of people from across the globe, although their expertise will lie with that particular region.

Christian Knutzen said...

Aileen - This is a great forum, and a very pertinent subject. I am currently deployed with my ODA in Nepal for the next 2 months, and we just did 9 months on Mindanao in the Philippines, and by far the biggest hurdle then and now is host nation communication and US interagency efforts. However, when it - communication and IA - does occur, the efforts within the AO are definitively better applied, better received, and easier to follow-up and through on. You ask what Asia-Pacific will look like in 20 years? From this side of the community, it looks great if the US effort in those countries that request our assistance is unified and well-developed. We have the resources – my budgets are more than enough; we have the time – we stay for months in places; we have the access – we provide our own security; but we do not always make the effort to listen, as you say. We just need to listen to what local vetted leaders on the ground are saying and work together – from military to USAID to NGO to State Dept – to make sure we truly assist Asia-Pacific as a team.

LCDR Chuck Bell said...

Jaynard: You’re right. USPACOM is a Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. Armed Forces. I’d like to invite you to take a look at the USPACOM Strategy, which does a great job of spelling out the command’s objectives. To steal a line from the command’s mission statement: “With allies and partners, USPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression, and, when necessary, fighting to win.” To get a sense of the types of activities taking place throughout Asia-Pacific in support of this mission, check us out at

James: Not sure if you happened to see the blog post prior to this one, highlighting Adm. Keating's discussion at CSIS, during which he shares his current views on a variety of issues, including those you mention.

Jheanne said...

I think three challenges are economics, politics and religion, and they're all interconnected. How does the Asia-Pacific region react to North Korea's missile threats or to Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines? How can these developing countries improve their economies and create jobs but not take them away from the US?

And most importantly, how can the Asia-Pacific region improve the quality of life for their residents and citizens?

As for how Asia Pacific will look in 20 years, I think it'll be unimaginable since technology advances so quickly.

Anonymous said...

What I hope the conference will do is get USPACOM focused on a proactive agenda that focuses on opportunities versus always focusing on the next threat or challenge. We have to be prepared for the worst but let's plan and discuss our future.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in understanding the impact of fundamentalist Islam within the region on women's right and their quality of life. Unless the Asia-Pacific region can ensure women's access to education, healthcare, and birth control choices, the region will continue to be unstable.

RH said...

I think the biggest challenge in the Asia-Pacific region is in getting a large percentage, and number, of people out of poverty. In a lot of the media we hear great stories of how China's economy is growing so fast, or how many jobs are being outsourced to India.

These are all great for some, but what we don't see as much of in the media is the other side of the story. For example, the new factory in one Chinese city creating all these jobs is at the same time destroying the water supply for farmers down the river and ruining the farmer's livelihood.

I think issues like the one above can be resolved when the local people have a voice and the international community listens. By putting the local people's voices on the World stage more will force the local and national governments to work towards solutions. I thinking giving the local people a platform, perhaps through the use of Social Media, will help to get more voices heard.

Anonymous said...

I was at the conference I have to tell you it was the best that I have seen in my 3 years at USPACOM. Stimulating, informative and provacative. The brief to Admiral Keating could not have been more pertinent.

Thanks for putting in on. We should be doing more conferences like this.


MAJ Robert Dye said...

Having attending the Horizons Conference, I hope that this forum will continue some of the momentum that we achieved in our discussions and subsequent out-brief to ADM Keating.

Some key take-aways that I got from this conference:

1. Multi-lateralism in the Asia-Pacific is tenuous and USPACOM should consider some of the broader implications of it and see some utility in bilateral engagement with particular partners.

2. Economic competition and relationships serve as the primary driver behind nation-state behavior rather than any other drivers that we have dealt with in the past.

3. Although we acknowledge the rise of China and India in terms of relative power, the nuances of there national character, internal influences, and overall national direction will shape our engagement with them and does not necessarily pose an overarching security "threat" as we have seen in the past.

4. Although USPACOM is a military and security entity for the US in this region, we have the opportunity to positively influence this region in the future by engaging allies, partners, and friends with a different approach, multi-disciplined in nature, and contributing to a more "whole-of-government" approach that is more effective and helps to advance the position of the US not just the US military.

These were just an initial brush of what I saw and heard and I'm certainly looking forward to continued discourse and interaction amongst the community.

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