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New Pacific focus won't include massive troop influx, Dempsey says

WASHINGTON — The United States’ much vaunted “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region doesn’t presage a huge buildup of troops or ships in the region, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday at the Pentagon.

Dempsey returned earlier this week from the Shangri-La Dialogue, a yearly security summit held in Singapore.

The rebalancing “involves more than just bringing additional hardware to the area,” he said. Instead, more strategic analysis will be brought to bear on the region, and U.S. diplomats and military leaders will try to build stronger relationships with countries there. The best U.S. weaponry will be deployed — advanced ships, fifth-generation fighter jets and capable missile-defense systems, Dempsey said.

The United States also wants the countries of the region themselves to start building toward greater military cooperation, a process that could be spurred by the expansion of Chinese military power and the country’s greater assertiveness in pushing territorial and maritime claims.

“We’re encouraging ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] to take a more active role, to be a unified voice for security issues in that region,” he said.

On other topics, Dempsey said the United States was “extraordinarily dissatisfied” with Pakistan’s failure to tamp down the Haqqani network, a group whose attacks in eastern Afghanistan could delay the U.S. timetable for withdrawal from the war.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said earlier in the day in an unannounced visit to Kabul that the U.S. was effectively at war in the region of Pakistan where the Haqqani find refuge.

carrollc@stripes.osd.mil
Twitter: @ChrisCarroll_

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