Washington D.C. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement on today’s hearing on the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Budget Requests for U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea:

 “I would like to extend a warm welcome to Admiral Willard and to General Sharp, and I would like to thank each of them for making a long journey to be here with us today.  We are fortunate to receive their expert testimony, as we have a variety of important matters to discuss. 

 “The United States Pacific Command’s area of responsibility is a veritable tapestry that is enriched by a diversity of peoples, traditions, and cultures; and much of the growth and prosperity that is enjoyed in that vast portion of the world can be traced to productive relationships between the United States and our many partners in the region.  Without question, our servicemen and women serving within the U.S. Pacific Command play a crucial role in bolstering these relationships in a variety of ways.  We certainly owe them our gratitude.

 “I would like to specifically commend those servicemen and women who are presently assisting our Japanese friends in remedying the traumatic effects of a truly epic natural disaster; and, above all, I wish to express our deep admiration for, and extend our full support to, the Japanese people, as they endeavor to prevail over the precarious situation on the island of Honshu.  I also wish to acknowledge those service personnel whose daily efforts help maintain the truce on the Korean peninsula.  Their efforts serve as a shining example of how courage and commitment help in providing stability and in promoting peaceful progress across the region.

 “I do not wish to suggest, however, that the Pacific region does not have its challenges.  Unfortunately, the North Korean regime continues to present a threat to the international community, just as it continues to abuse its long-suffering populace.  It is especially troubling that the North Koran leadership insists on resorting to bellicosity, brinksmanship, and open provocation in an entirely counter-productive manner.  As a result, maintaining our strong alliance with the Republic of Korea will remain a national security priority, and I welcome your assessments of how we might improve conditions on the peninsula.

 “Although we already engage in constructive discourse, improvements in our security relationship with an emerging China should also be prioritized.  I am particularly interested in your views on how we might promote transparency and communicate more effectively in our military-to-military contacts with the Chinese to agreeably mitigate concerns and to assist in perpetuating stable and productive multi-lateral cooperation in the region.  I am also interested in learning how we might develop our security relationship with India.  Clearly, India’s burgeoning productivity and influence will support its increasing role in promoting stability in the Pacific and across other regions.  These are just two examples among a whole host of relationships that must be actively cultivated within PACOM’s area of responsibility.

 “Transnational threats, such as violent extremism, cyber-threats, and illicit trafficking in persons, narcotics, and weapons are shared menaces.   So are the harmful effects of disease, malnourishment, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and natural disaster.  The more we can do to minimize territorial disputes and other international tensions through peaceful and productive interactions among our many partners, the more we can accomplish in countering these threats.  An inclusive and interactive approach is the key to further realizing the immense potential for prosperity in the region.

 “The United States will have to continue to lead by its example and to offer assurances through its forward military presence in the region.  I am very interested to learn more about how the U.S. Pacific Command’s embrace of a flexible force posture will prove effective in meeting security challenges now and in the future. 

 “How may the United States further its existing relationships in the region and maximize its assets in locations like Japan, South Korea, and Guam?  How might the United States cultivate new relationships and opportunities for cooperative engagement in the region?  How might we achieve our goals in the region in the most cost-effective manner?  Most importantly, how might the Congress provide your commands with the resources appropriate to their needs?

 “I look forward to receiving your testimony and to continuing our dialogue on these and other important issues.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”