Washington: Ahead of his first visit to India, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday asked US military to be vigilant against China and be prepared to defeat the enemy anywhere and anytime.
The Obama Administration has developed a new defence strategy to ensure that the US military can meet the challenges of the 21st century, Panetta said in his commencement address to the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.
"Our military force for the future must be agile, flexible, deployable, and technologically advanced; we will emphasize Asia-Pacific as well as the Middle East; we will strengthen key alliances and partnerships around the world," Panetta said.
"We will ensure our military can confront aggression and defeat any opponent anytime, anywhere; and we will protect investments in new capabilities --from cyber, to unmanned systems, to space to special operations forces," Panetta added.
The Navy and Marine Corps are fundamental to every element of that strategy, he said.
"We also need you to strengthen defence ties with China. China's military is growing and modernising. We must be vigilant. We must be strong. We must be prepared to confront any challenge," Panetta said adding that the key to peace in that region is to develop a new era of defence cooperation between US and these countries.
"America is a maritime nation, and we are returning to our maritime roots. The project of your generation will be sustaining and enhancing American strength across the great maritime region of the Asia-Pacific," Panetta said.
He said that he is leaving for India and South East Asia on Wednesday.
Panetta was expexted to arrive in New Delhi from Hanoi, the Capital of Vietnam, on a two-day visit to India in the first week of June.
"America's future prosperity and security are tied to our ability to advance peace and security along the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South Asia," Panetta said.
"That reality is inescapable for our country and for our military, which has already begun broadening and deepening our engagement throughout the Asia-Pacific," he added.
Panetta urged the Navy and the Marine corps that their charge is to help ensure the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region for the 21st century.
He asked them to project America's power and to reflect America's character: to serve on ships and submarines, to fly planes, and to train and operate throughout the region," he said.
"We need you to do the important work of strengthening and modernising our historic alliances with Japan, Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand," he said.
"We need you to build robust partnerships throughout the region; with countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia; with Vietnam, Singapore, India and many others," he added.
"Tomorrow I depart on a trip to Southeast Asia and India. And later this year, I will travel to China for the first time as Secretary of Defence. I'll tell all of these nations that the United States will remain a Pacific power," Panetta said.
First Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 22:35