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US Defense Chief Touts Expanding Exercises with Indo-Pacific Partners

Written: 2023-03-24 15:05:51Updated: 2023-03-24 16:31:42

US Defense Chief Touts Expanding Exercises with Indo-Pacific Partners

Photo : YONHAP News

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says the U.S. is investing in a more resilient force posture in the Indo-Pacific and increasing the scale and scope of its exercises with its partners.

The secretary made the statement before the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on Thursday as he called on Congress to support the government’s 2024 defense budget of 842 billion dollars that he said is driven by the seriousness of the U.S.’ strategic competition with China.

Austin noted that the budget includes a 40-percent increase over last year's for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, seeking an all-time high of nine-point-one billion dollars.

He said the increase will “fund a stronger force posture, better defenses for Hawaii and Guam and deeper cooperation” with U.S. allies and partners.

Emphasizing that the Pentagon remains alert to threats coming from North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations, Austin said the budget also aims to boost the U.S.’ “readiness and resilience in the face of climate change and other 21st century threats that don't care about borders.”

Austin also cited significant steps forward in the Indo-Pacific in terms of its network of allies and partners, saying the Philippines has agreed to nearly double the number of sites where their nations cooperate, while Japan committed to doubling its defense spending.

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