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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Samuel J. Locklear
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will depart Thursday on a tour of Southeast Asia to meet with U.S. allies increasingly concerned over China's aggressive pursuit of its maritime territorial claims.
A U.S. intelligence-gathering ship was harassed by a Chinese security ship last month in an incident that analysts say indicates Beijing is stepping up aggressive maritime encounters toward the U.S. Navy in the Asia-Pacific.
U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have identified the launch zone on North Korea’s east coast where Pyongyang’s military is set to fire a salvo of missiles that risk being shot down by U.S. missile defenses in the region.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta's unusual offer to China's military to join a major U.S.-led naval exercise in the Pacific prompted several U.S. security officials to express fears privately that China will gain valuable war-fighting intelligence from the Rimpac, or Rim of the Pacific, exercise.
A top Navy official in the campaign in Libya on Wednesday said international forces were attacking government troops that have been besieging population centers in the North African nation.
Locklear said economic exclusion zones cover "most of the major sea lines of communication" that are vital for trade and shipping.
Locklear said, "I would say it's not provocative certainly. I'd say that in the Asia-Pacific, in the areas that are closer to the Chinese homeland, that we have been able to conduct operations around each other in a very professional and increasingly professional manner."