Thursday, November 12, 2009

PACOM Commander Speaks at Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit

Adm. Robert F. Willard discussed U.S. Pacific Command’s focus on addressing and mitigating transnational threats, and that effort’s correlation to the Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit’s “Securing Population Centers” theme, Nov. 10.

Sponsored by the State of Hawaii, and as noted on the event’s website, the summit and exposition brought together in Honolulu attendees from 11 nations to discuss present and future capabilities necessary to protect population centers.

Adm. Willard was one of three panelists during the summit’s closing session, and said PACOM expends considerable resources and time endeavoring to defend against transnational threats, and “…prevent them from reaching our shores, or the shores of our allies and partners.” He defined these threats as violent extremism and terror, international criminal activity such as piracy, narcotics and human trafficking, weapons proliferation including weapons of mass destructions, and natural and manmade disasters that create humanitarian crises.

“I think to put the security of our population centers in complete context, we have to understand this as much as the immediate response to crises in our homeland or close to home,” Adm. Willard said. “Even with natural disasters, while it would seem there’s not much we can do to directly defend against them, through prior preparation and disaster response training and exercises, we attempt to mitigate the impact of natural disasters so they don’t become destabilizing.”

He said that what the 300,000-plus men and women in the PACOM area of responsibility do daily is designed to ensure regional security and stability. “Part of that is at the high end, through deterrence efforts aimed at keeping the peace among major powers,” Adm. Willard said. “But by doing things that reduce societal tension and relieve population stress, we mitigate situations that could lead to conflicts and crisis.

“We believe there’s a great payoff for the military support of civil authorities, for capacity building with our regional partners, and for liberally sharing what we know with our friends,” he said.

Adm. Willard went on to mention trends that are likely to affect the future security environment, such as demographic shifts, the growing magnitude and complexity of economic interdependencies, and challenges associated with environmental, energy, and resource security, “…especially in a region of the world that’s home to many of the most important sea lanes and choke points and where demands for energy and natural resources are growing.”


To realize solutions to the challenges faced in the Asia-Pacific, Adm. Willard said relationships are the key. “They must be trust-based, personal relationships that enable information exchange and capacity building, ones that close the seams that so often obscure solutions and impede progress.

“When we consider the bonds that ought to be fostered in order to ensure stability and security prevail, it’s important to entertain relationships between departments within an agency, across agencies within a government, across governments within a region, or even across sectors within society,” he said.

Adm. Willard noted that that while there is much more to do, progress is being made, citing examples such as the Pacific Partnership humanitarian and civic assistance mission that wrapped up in September, and the recently completed Chiefs of Defense Conference, where, “Over the course of several days we openly discussed many of the common security concerns that you have discussed here,” he said, “And most importantly, strengthened the personal and professional relationships that regional security and stability absolutely depend on.

“The task at hand is to continually advance our knowledge, capabilities, and capacities to defend this region against transnational threats, and in doing so, to secure its population centers,” Adm. Willard said in conclusion. “We need to ask ourselves the tough questions about the nature of these threats and the knowledge that we have of them. And where needed, improve our knowledge and act decisively on what we know.

“Because this is a team sport, we must do our utmost to build enduring personal relationships with our regional partners, and then have in place the policies and agreed-to protocols that enable real action.”

1 comment:

Winston said...

thank you for your service

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