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American Forces Press Service

Panetta: Partnerships Bolster National Security

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2012 – Collaboration, as much as military might, should play a key role in national security, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here last night.

In remarks as part of the United States Institute of Peace’s Acheson lecture series, Panetta outlined a blueprint for building 21st-century partnerships and improving security cooperation across several areas.

“We must be bold enough to adopt a more collaborative approach to security, both within the United States government and among allies, partners, and multilateral organizations,” he said, adding that the United States must place even greater strategic emphasis on building the security capabilities of others.

Panetta underscored the need to maintain comprehensive and integrated capabilities in key regions to confront critical security challenges.

"Unlike past defense drawdowns when the threats the country was facing appeared to diminish, we still confront many challenges,” the secretary said.

Destabilizing behavior of nations such as Iran and North Korea, the rise of new powers across Asia and the ongoing need to deter aggression in the Middle East and North Africa, Panetta said, have made partnership a critical component of peaceful and cooperative international order.

“Our new strategy prioritizes the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East – the areas with the most significant security challenges,” he said. “We will retain … our military presence, … but we are also going to help more nations share the responsibilities and costs of providing security by investing in alliances and partnerships.”

These partnerships will include engagement in exercises, training and innovative rotational deployments, the secretary added.

Panetta acknowledged that the United States must face these challenges while grappling with a deficit and debt problem that has led Congress to seek nearly half a trillion dollars in defense savings over the next decade. This, he added, requires reshaped priorities that will include a leaner, agile and quickly deployable force on the cutting edge of technology while continuing to develop key capabilities.

“We will … continue to invest in the capabilities of the future such as cyber, unmanned systems, space, special operations forces, and the ability to quickly mobilize and maintain our industrial base,” he said.

Panetta said his strategies built on many enduring philosophies put forth by Dean Acheson, for whom the lecture series is named. As secretary of state from 1949 to 1953, Acheson was a leading proponent for bolstering America’s military might and was a principal architect of America’s foreign policy.

“Acheson strongly believed that America should not seek to shoulder the burden and costs for global security alone,” the secretary said. “Instead, he understood that a key part of a strong defense was to build the security capacity of allies and partners.”

Panetta praised Acheson’s forward-thinking in policy from Western Europe and NATO to South Korea, from the Truman Doctrine to the Nixon Doctrine, and the statesman’s involvement with key allies and regional partners to build a sound U.S. national security strategy after World War II.

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