Secretary of Defense Mark Esper today called for expanding base locations in the Pacific while continuing regular freedom of navigation operations in the region, as part of a broader attempt to stymie China’s influence.
Esper, speaking at the Naval War College, called the Indo-Pacific theater “our priority theater,” as the department continues its shift towards an era of great power competition.
“Many of you spent most of your career fighting irregular warfare or engaging with it,” Esper told the audience. “But times have changed.”
In the Pacific, “allies and partners want us to lead… but to do that we must also be present in the region,” Esper said. “Not everywhere, but we have to be in the key locations. This means looking at how we expand our basing locations, investing more time and resources into certain regions we haven’t been to in the past.”
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