U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said plans are underway to “sharpen” the United States’ military edge as part of the U.S. plan to pivot or “rebalance” to Asia.
“In this next phase, the United States will continue to sharpen our military edge so we remain the most powerful military in the region and the security partner of choice,” Carter said Thursday on the U.S.aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in San Diego.
Carter reaffirmed alliances with security partners in the region, including the Philippines.
President of the Philippines Rodrigo has been vocal in his criticism of the United States and recently said he would put an end to military patrols with Washington -a symbolic blow to a military alliance dating back more than 60 years.
“I will serve notice to you now, that this will be the last military exercise, jointly Philippines-US, the last one,” Duterte told several hundred Vietnam-based Filipinos during an address in Hanoi as he started a trip to Vietnam.
But on Thursday Carter said ties remain strong.
“As it has been for decades, our alliance with the Philippines is ironclad,” Carter said.
Carter also expressed “serious concerns” with China’s policy “on the seas, in cyberspace, and elsewhere.”
“ sometimes appears to want to pick and choose which principles it wants to benefit from and which it prefers to try to undercut,” Carter said.
China continues to express opposition to the deployment of THAAD in South Korea although Seoul and Washington are deploying the missile defense system to deter North Korea.
Carter also outlined plans for “leap-ahead investments” that will contribute to the “third phase” of the Asia-Pacific pivot initiated in 2011.
Those plans include tripling the capacity of Tomahawk missiles on Virginia-class submarines, increasing funding for undersea drones and refitting the SM-6 supersonic missile so it can hit enemy ships from a long distance.
Popular Military’s Michael Swaney contributed to this report