- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2012

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday that the United States does not intend to establish a permanent presence in the Asia-Pacific area even though the new U.S. military strategy focuses attention on the region.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who recently returned from a trip to Southeast Asia, said leaders he met there expressed concern about a permanent U.S. military presence in the region.

“I don’t carry around a backpack with American flags and run around the world planting them,” Gen. Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon. “We want to be out there partnered with nations and have a rotational presence that would allow us to build up common capabilities for common interests in the region, because we think that will be stabilizing.”

“Our intent is rotational. It’s exercise. It’s exchanges, and those are episodic and they’re temporal. They last for a period of time, and then they move on to another exercise,” he said.

Gen. Dempsey also said that the new strategy is not aimed at containing China, which has been asserting its dominance in the area, and that the U.S. does not want to become involved in territorial disputes in the region.

He added that the U.S. is encouraging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take a more active role in security matters.

“We discussed the fact that it’s in our interest to ensure freedom of navigation, maritime security, that we do not become involved in territorial disputes, but that we certainly called on all claimants to resolve these issues through existing international fora and without coercion,” Gen. Dempsey said.