14 November 2019

The Indo-Pacific Strategy Report & its Implementation to Date: Highlights from Twin Documents

A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision

A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision (Washington, DC: Department of State, 4 November 2019).

Click here to download a cached copy.

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Secretary of State Michael Pompeo:

President Donald J. Trump has made U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific region a top priority of his Administration. In November 2017 in Vietnam, he outlined a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific in which all countries prosper side by side as sovereign, independent states.

That vision, shared with billions of people in more than 35 countries and economies, is based on values that have underpinned peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific for generations. Free, fair, and reciprocal trade, open investment environments, good governance, and freedom of the seas are goals shared by all who wish to prosper in a free and open future.

This report describes how the United States is working with allies and partners to implement our shared vision:

  • The United States remains deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific region and committed to its prosperity. With $1.9 trillion in two-way trade, our futures are inextricably intertwined. S. government agencies, businesses, and institutions are spurring private sector investment and gainful employment in infrastructure, energy, and the digital economy, strengthening civil society and democratic institutions, countering transnational threats, and investing in human capital across the Indo-Pacific.
  • The United States, our allies, and our partners are at the forefront of preserving the free and open regional order. All nations have a shared responsibility to uphold the rules and values that underpin a free and open Indo-Pacific. We are increasing the tempo and scope of our work with allies, partners, and regional institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Mekong states, the Pacific Island countries, and our strategic partner India to address shared challenges and advance a shared vision.
  • The United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy is driving a tangible increase in resources devoted to the Indo-Pacific region. Since the start of the Trump Administration, the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have provided the region with over $4.5 billion in foreign assistance. This has been augmented by hundreds of billions more in development financing, investment by U.S. firms, and other sources. We are investing new resources, launching new programs, and building new partnerships to ensure a safe, prosperous, and dynamic future for the region.

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The United States is and always will be an Indo-Pacific nation. From our first trading ships that departed for Canton just after the American Revolution to our first consular presence in Kolkata in 1794, U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific is a story of trade, exchange, shared sacrifice, and mutual benefit.

Today, Indo-Pacific nations face unprecedented challenges to their sovereignty, prosperity, and peace. The U.S. National Security Strategy, released in December 2017, recognizes that the most consequential challenge to U.S. and partner interests is the growing competition between free and repressive visions of the future international order. Authoritarian revisionist powers seek to advance their parochial interests at others’ expense.

We are committed to upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty and able to pursue economic growth consistent with international law and principles of fair competition. We will compete vigorously against attempts to limit the autonomy and freedom of choice of Indo-Pacific nations.

Competition, however, is not conflict. Rather, it can prevent conflict and elevate the performance of all. The United States and our partners believe that the best way to prevent conflict is to reinforce the values that supported the Indo-Pacific region’s remarkable progress.

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We have a fundamental interest in ensuring that the future of the Indo-Pacific is one of freedom and openness rather than coercion and corruption. The United States is the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Indo-Pacific. In 2018, we conducted over $1.9 trillion in two-way trade with the region, supporting more than 3 million jobs in the United States and 5.1 million jobs in the Indo-Pacific. All five of our non-NATO bilateral defense alliances are in the Indo-Pacific. We are also the largest donor of foreign assistance in the region, contributing $2 trillion in constant dollars since the end of World War II.

Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is implementing a whole-of-government strategy to champion the values that have served the Indo-Pacific so well: (1) respect for sovereignty and independence of all nations; (2) peaceful resolution of disputes;

(3) free, fair, and reciprocal trade based on open investment, transparent agreements, and connectivity; and (4) adherence to international law, including freedom of navigation and overflight.

This report describes our engagement in the Indo- Pacific and our commitment to its future prosperity. It highlights tangible resources directed to the region with support from the United States Congress, and it notes specific steps we have taken alongside allies and partners to realize our vision since the start of the Trump Administration.

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Under the Indo-Pacific strategy, the United States has increased its tempo and level of cooperation with allies and partners in the region.

ASEAN is most effective when it speaks with one voice about pressing political and security issues, and it took an important step in this regard with the June 2019 release of its “Outlook

on the Indo-Pacific.” We see a clear convergence between the principles enshrined in ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific Outlook—inclusivity, openness, good governance, and respect for international law—and the vision of the United States for a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as the regional approaches of our allies, partners, and friends.

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The U.S. vision and approach in the Indo-Pacific region aligns closely with Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept, India’s Act East Policy, Australia’s Indo-Pacific concept, the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy, and Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.

We are also strengthening and deepening our relationship with Taiwan. We have repeatedly expressed our concern over Beijing’s actions to bully Taiwan through military maneuvers, economic pressure, constraints on its international space, and poaching of its diplomatic partners. These actions undermine the cross-Strait …

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A strong U.S.-India partnership is vital to the U.S. Indo-Pacific vision. The inaugural 2+2 Dialogue in 2018 significantly enhanced our defense and economic cooperation. As a Major Defense Partner, India has purchased more than $16 billion in U.S. defense platforms, with billions more in the pipeline. We signed a bilateral Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement to facilitate defense cooperation in 2018, and plan to hold the first ever tri-service bilateral exercise, Tiger Triumph, in November 2019.

The United States and India are working together to address regional and global development challenges. The U.S.-Australia-India-Japan Quadrilateral Consultations were elevated to the ministerial level in September, a historic first for our countries. The ministers affirmed their commitment to cooperation on maritime security, quality infrastructure, and regional connectivity, and discussed priorities in counter-terrorism and cyber security. Our armies are jointly training African peacekeepers and USAID is working with India in third countries to promote child and maternal health development.

India is also a growing energy partner, with purchases of U.S. mineral fuel products jumping 119 percent in 2018 alone to $6.2 billion. Under the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership, we pursue energy cooperation in power, renewable, efficiency, and oil/gas segments. Space cooperation is another exciting area of opportunity, including a $1.5 billion project to co-develop an Earth observation satellite called NISAR.

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…status quo that has benefitted both sides of the Strait for decades.

Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States supports an effective deterrence capability for Taiwan. In 2019, the Trump Administration approved and notified Congress of potential sales of critical defense equipment totaling more than $10 billion. Through the American Institute in Taiwan, we worked together to convene hundreds of Indo-Pacific policymakers and experts on issues including public health, women’s empowerment, media disinformation, and the digital economy. We also co-hosted the first-ever Pacific Islands Dialogue in October 2019 to explore areas of cooperation among like-minded partners in the Pacific Islands. …

Our engagement with Pacific Island nations rose to unprecedented levels with President Trump’s historic Oval Office meeting with the three Presidents of the Freely Associated States on May 21, 2019; the Secretary of the Interior’s attendance at the annual Pacific Islands Forum Partners Dialogue in 2018 and 2019; Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie’s attendance at the inauguration of Micronesian President Panuelo in July 2019; and Secretary Pompeo’s historic visit to the Federated States of Micronesia in August 2019. 

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In September 2019, the United States announced a new $100 million “Pacific Pledge.” This assistance is in addition to the approximately $350 million annually that U.S. agencies invest in projects, assistance, and operations to build a more prosperous future for the people of the region. As part of the Pacific Pledge, USAID plans to provide more than $62 million in new programs over the next year, more than doubling development assistance over prior years. This year, the United States also made an initial grant to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB’s) Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF) to support infrastructure planning in the Pacific Islands. In addition, USAID will expand its staff presence in Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau.

The United States is broadening our close cooperation with Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific and beyond in such areas as infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific, joint operations countering illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, science and space collaboration, and securing our critical mineral supply chain. These partnerships magnify our impact on improving access for Pacific Island nations to high-quality, resilient development of their economic and natural resources.

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The United States is also increasing bilateral engagement with South Asian partners. We are helping Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives equip and train their navies and coast guards….

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The International Energy Agency projects that the Indo-Pacific region will account for approximately 60 percent of global growth in energy demand by 2040, requiring more than $1 trillion in annual energy infrastructure investment. To meet this demand while integrating renewable energy sources, countries need access to abundant, affordable, sustainable, and reliable energy; diverse sources; and safe trade routes. U.S. resources and technical expertise are an important driver of Indo-Pacific energy security. In 2018 alone, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. energy exports, totaling $50 billion, went to the Indo-Pacific region.

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These efforts build on the productive history of U.S. energy engagement in the Indo-Pacific. In Thailand, for example, Chevron was the first company ever granted oil-exploration rights, and in 1973 it discovered the first hydrocarbons in Thai waters. This gave birth to a major national industry. Today, Chevron is Thailand’s top natural gas and crude oil producer, and its investments support more than 200,000 jobs. In Singapore, ExxonMobil has been operating for more than 125 years and is one of the largest foreign investors with more than $18 billion assets in the country. …


The internet and digital economy have spurred tremendous economic growth and improved living standards around the world. The Indo-Pacific is home to some of the most connected and technologically sophisticated economies on the planet. One major challenge over the next decade will be to maintain open and interoperable cross-border data flows while protecting the digital economy from cybersecurity threats.

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) practices repression at home and abroad. Beijing is intolerant of dissent, aggressively controls media and civil society, and brutally suppresses ethnic and religious minorities. Such practices, which Beijing exports to other countries through its political and economic influence, undermine the conditions that have promoted stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific for decades.

We have called on the PRC publicly to halt its brutal repression of Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. We urge that the selection of religious leaders by the Tibetan community be free of interference by the Chinese Communist Party. With respect to Hong Kong, we have cautioned Beijing that it must uphold its commitments to maintaining Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberties under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. We believe that freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be vigorously protected in Hong Kong and across the Indo-Pacific region.

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The United States seeks to build a flexible, resilient network of like-minded security partners to address common challenges. We share information and build the capacity of security sector forces to respond to transnational crime, protect the maritime domain, address environmental challenges, and response collectively to emerging threats. We also ensure that the U.S. military and its allies maintain interoperable capabilities to deter adversaries.

Our enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific is demonstrated daily by our presence in the region with approximately 375,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel assigned to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) area of responsibility.

We are continuing to strengthen this forward presence. President Trump and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signed an update to the 1990 memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding U.S. use of facilities in Singapore. This agreement allows continued U.S. military access to Singapore’s air and naval bases and provides logistic support for transiting personnel, aircraft and vessels. It also extends the original MOU by 15 years. …

Among the most urgent transnational threats are threats in the cyber domain. The United States is increasing support to our Indo-Pacific partners to defend their networks and counter malicious cyber activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK), the PRC, Russia, and other state and non-state cyber actors…. 

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The United States also works with partners on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and other dangerous materials. Together, we counter DPRK proliferation activities, enforce United States and UN Security Council sanctions, build strategic trade control frameworks, educate industry on their compliance obligations, and strengthen the enforcement at key land, maritime, and air ports of entry. We build capacity and raise awareness on proliferation activities with governments, shipping companies, shipboard personnel, and facility personnel to ensure the safe and secure flow of legitimate international trade.

To protect the maritime domain, we cooperate with Indo-Pacific partners to maintain freedom of navigation and other lawful uses of the sea so that all nations can access and benefit from the maritime commons. In the South China Sea, we urge all claimants, including the PRC, to resolve disputes peacefully, without coercion, and in accordance with international law.

PRC maritime claims in the South China Sea, exemplified by the preposterous “nine-dash line,” are unfounded, unlawful, and unreasonable. These claims, which are without legal, historic, or geographic merit, impose real costs on other countries. Through repeated provocative actions to assert the nine-dash line, Beijing is inhibiting ASEAN members from accessing over $2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves, while contributing to instability and the risk of conflict.

Over the past two years, we welcomed historic firsts in our maritime cooperation. In May 2019, we participated in the first joint sail by U.S., Indian, Japanese, and Philippines navies through the South China Sea. In September 2019, we co-hosted with Thailand the first U.S.-ASEAN maritime exercise to strengthen relationships and information sharing between the navies of ASEAN nations and the United States. In 2018, we expanded the Southeast Asia Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative. The 23rd edition of the U.S.-Japan-India Malabar naval exercise in September 2019 demonstrated growing interoperability between our navies as we work together to strengthen maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.

Since the beginning of the Trump Administration, we have provided more than $1.1 billion for Department of State and USAID security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia. This includes $356 million for programs such as the Department of State’s Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (SAMSI) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative. These programs provide training and equipment that enables South and Southeast Asian countries to better detect threats, share information, and respond collectively to natural and man-made crises. Over the same period, the Department of Defense’s Maritime Security Initiative and “Section 333” funds provided nearly $250 million for maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance information sharing, interoperability, and multinational maritime cooperation. We are providing new advisors to enhance maritime security and defense reforms in the Pacific Islands and develop cyber policy and governance frameworks in Mongolia.

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The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has an enduring and specialized role in the Indo-Pacific. Working with maritime law enforcement agencies, the USCG seeks to strengthen maritime governance to preserve sovereignty, share information to facilitate regional force-multiplying partnerships, and demonstrate professional standards of behavior to reinforce the rule of law at sea.

In the past year, the USCG deployed two National Security Cutters, STRATTON and BERTHOLF, to the Indo-Pacific region. The vessels engaged in multilateral exercises, and the BERTHOLF made the first visit by a U.S. cutter to the Philippines in more than seven years.

USCG security cooperation activities include foreign military sales of response boats and cutter boats, participation in multi-national security exercises, developing bilateral search-and-rescue and law enforcement agreements, hosting ship-riders, and deploying training teams to build partner nation proficiency. The USCG also transfers decommissioned cutters via the Excess Defense Article program. Bangladesh integrated two Hamilton Class Cutters transferred by the U.S. Coast Guard into its maritime fleet, and Sri Lanka integrated a Hamilton Class Cutter in 2018 to augment their Reliance Class Cutter received in 2004. Vietnam received its first Hamilton Class Cutter in 2017 while the Philippines has received three Hamilton Class Cutters since 2011. These vessels help partner nations maintain a high state of operational readiness and protect their maritime resources.

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The U.S. government has taken many steps to meet President Trump’s prioritization of the Indo-Pacific. Since the start of the Trump Administration, the Department of State and USAID have provided more than $4.5 billion in foreign assistance to the region. In the first three years of the Trump Administration, we have increased assistance to the region by 25 percent compared to the last three years of the previous Administration, representing a dedicated shift of resources to the Indo-Pacific. This has been augmented by hundreds of billions more in development financing, investment by U.S. firms, and other sources.

A key factor driving the U.S. investment in the Indo-Pacific is the bipartisan support enjoyed for this approach among lawmakers. The United States Congress demonstrated

its support for the priorities of the Indo-Pacific strategy through the passage of the BUILD Act in October 2018 and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act in December 2018. Congress has also returned a quorum to EXIM and underscored the U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense and international space, among other legislative efforts. The Administration and Congress will continue to work together to strengthen the whole-of-government commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

For more than 70 years, the United States, along with our allies and partners, has vigorously defended a free and open environment based on principles that support the rights of all nations, large and small. U.S. resolve to uphold this free and open order is deep-rooted, and has only grown stronger in the face of efforts to undermine it and impose ties of hegemony and dependency in its place. U.S. engagement across the spectrum of our interests has never been stronger. By joining with allies and partners to defend the principles and values that made the Indo-Pacific region thrive, we will ensure the region remains peaceful, prosperous, and secure for decades to come.


Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region (Arlington, VA: Department of Defense, 1 June 2019).

Click here to download a cached copy.

The Indo-Pacific is the Department of Defense’s priority theater. The United States is a Pacific nation….

Inter-state strategic competition, defined by geopolitical rivalry between free and repressive world order visions, is the primary concern for U.S. national security. In particular, the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, seeks to reorder the region to its advantage by leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations.

In contrast, the Department of Defense supports choices that promote long-term peace and prosperity for all in the Indo-Pacific. We will not accept policies or actions that threaten or undermine the rules-based international order – an order that benefits all nations. …

This 2019 Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Report (IPSR) affirms the enduring U.S. commitment to stability and prosperity in the region through the pursuit of preparedness, partnerships, and the promotion of a networked region.

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The Indo-Pacific is the single most consequential region for America’s future.

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1.2. Vision and Principles for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

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  1. Respect for sovereignty and independence of all nations;
  2. Peaceful resolution of disputes;
  3. Free, fair, and reciprocal trade based on open investment, transparent agreements, and connectivity; and,
  4. Adherence to international rules and norms, including those of freedom of navigation and overflight. …

Our vision aspires to a regional order in which independent nations can both defend their interests and compete fairly in the international marketplace. It is a vision which recognizes that no one nation can or should dominate the Indo-Pacific.

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Furthermore, the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, a major bipartisan legislation, was signed into law by President Trump on December 31, 2018. This legislation enshrines a generational whole-of-government policy framework that demonstrates U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and includes initiatives that promote sovereignty, rule of law, democracy, economic engagement, and regional security.

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2.1. The People’s Republic of China as a Revisionist Power

China’s economic, political, and military rise is one of the defining elements of the 21st century. Today, the Indo-Pacific increasingly is confronted with a more confident and assertive China that is willing to accept friction in the pursuit of a more expansive set of political, economic, and security interests.

Perhaps no country has benefited more from the free and open regional and international system than China…. Yet while the Chinese people aspire to free markets, justice, and the rule of law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), undermines the international system from within by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously eroding the values and principles of the rules-based order.

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The People’s Republic of China’s Military Modernization and Coercive Actions

As China continues its economic and military ascendance, it seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and, ultimately global preeminence in the long-term. …

In 2018, China’s placement of anti-ship cruise missiles and long-range surface-to-air missiles on the disputed Spratly Islands violated a 2015 public pledge by the Chairman of the CCP Xi Jinping that “China does not intend to pursue militarization” of the Spratly Islands. …

Simultaneously, China is engaged in a campaign of low-level coercion to assert control of disputed spaces in the region, particularly in the maritime domain. China is using a steady progression of small, incremental steps in the “gray zone” between peaceful relations and overt hostilities to secure its aims, while remaining below the threshold of armed conflict. …

During the last decade, China continued to emphasize capabilities for Taiwan contingencies.

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China’s Use of Economic Means to Advance Its Strategic Interests

China is using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations, and implied military threats to persuade other states to comply with its agenda.

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A lack of transparency also clouds China’s activities in the polar regions. In 2018, China announced the inclusion of the region in One Belt One Road as the “Polar Silk Road” and emphasized its self-declared status as a “Near-Arctic State.” China is also expanding its engagement and capabilities in the Antarctic, in particular by working to finalize a fifth research station, which will diversify its presence across the continent. …

Through our military-to-military engagements, the Department of Defense will continue to encourage China to engage in behaviors that maintain peace and stability in the region and that support – rather than undermine – the rules-based international order. We will not accept policies or actions that threaten to undermine this order, which has benefited all countries in the region, including China. The United States is prepared to support China’s choices to the extent that China promotes long-term peace and prosperity for all in the Indo-Pacific, and we remain open to cooperate where our interests align.

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2.2. Russia as a Revitalized Malign Actor

“For decades, the U.S. led the world in hypersonics research – and deliberately chose not to weaponize these systems. China and Russia have chosen differently. Our nation does not seek adversaries, but we will not ignore them either. We refuse to be bound by geography. Our new, space-based sensor layer will give us persistent, timely, global awareness.”

– Acting Secretary Shanahan, remarks on the 2019 Missile Defense Review, January 17, 2019 …

China and Russia collaborate across the diplomatic, economic, and security arenas. China has increased investment in Russia’s economy and Russia is one of China’s top sources for energy imports. In the security realm, China purchases advanced equipment such as Su-35 fighter aircraft and the S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia. The two countries participate in bilateral and multilateral military exercises together, including China’s 2018 participation for the first time in Russia’s annual strategic command and staff exercise, VOSTOK (East) 2018. China and Russia…

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…frequently jointly oppose U.S.-sponsored measures at the United Nations Security Council. Broadly, they share a preference for a multipolar world order in which the United States is weaker and less influential. Russia has Arctic interests linked to its significant Arctic Ocean coastline and the extraction of natural resources. This is witnessed by Russia’s extended continental shelf claim, and an uptick in its military posture and investments to develop the region and the Northern Sea shipping route, including with Chinese involvement. However, an interest in reserving Arctic resources for littoral states may ultimately limit the extent and depth of Sino-Russian cooperation.

2.3. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a Rogue State

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) will remain a security challenge for DoD, the global system, our allies and partners, and competitors, until we achieve the final, fully verifiable denuclearization as committed to by Chairman Kim Jong Un. Although a pathway to peace is open for a diplomatic resolution of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, other weapons of mass destruction, missile threats, and the security challenges North Korea presents are real and demand continued vigilance. North Korea’s history as a serial proliferator, including conventional arms, nuclear technology, ballistic missiles, and chemical agents to countries, such as Iran and Syria, adds to our security concerns. Furthermore, the DPRK’s continued human rights violations and abuse against its own people, including violations of individuals’ freedom of expression, remain an issue of deep concern to the international community. The United States also continues to support Japan’s position that North Korea must completely resolve the issue of Japanese abductees, and has raised this with North Korean authorities.

North Korea has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile intended to be capable of striking the continental United States with a nuclear or conventional payload. In 2017, North Korea conducted a series of increasingly complex ballistic missile launches eastward toward the United States. North Korea did so by overflying Japan with long-range ballistic missiles. Some tests were done at highly lofted trajectories designed to simulate flights at ranges that could reach the United States.

North Korea poses a conventional threat to U.S. allies, such as the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan. North Korea has long-range artillery arrayed against the ROK – particularly the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area – capable of inflicting catastrophic damage on ROK civilians and large numbers of U.S. citizens. North Korea has demonstrated willingness to use lethal force to achieve its ends. In 2010, North Korea sank the ROK corvette CHEONAN and killed 46 sailors in an unprovoked attack. In 2010, it also shelled the ROK Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 2 civilians and 2 military personnel and wounding 22 more.

North Korea continues to circumvent international sanctions and the U.S.-led pressure campaign….

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Early in 2018, North Korea exceeded its sanctioned limit on refined petroleum imports through illicit ship-to-ship transfers. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) is working with allies and partners to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) by disrupting illicit ship-to-ship transfers, often near or in Chinese territorial waters, and in the Yellow Sea. North Korea is also engaged in cross-border smuggling operations and cyber-enabled theft to generate revenue, while simultaneously circumventing United Nations Security Council prohibitions on coal exports. …

Governments that are not responsive to the will of their people are more susceptible to malign external influence. For example, democratic backsliding in Cambodia has taken place since 2017, when the ruling party banned independent media and dissolved the main opposition party. Additionally, we remain concerned about reports that China is seeking to establish bases or a military presence on its coast, a development that would challenge regional security and signal a clear shift in Cambodia’s foreign policy orientation.

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3.1. U.S. National Interests

The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy is based upon the view that peace, security, and prosperity depend on strong, sovereign nations that respect their citizens at home and cooperate to advance peace abroad. It is grounded in the belief that U.S. leadership in promoting these widely held principles is a lasting force for good in the world. As such, DoD is working to support enduring U.S. national interests, as articulated in the National Security Strategy:

  1. Protect the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life;
  2. Promote American prosperity through fair and reciprocal economic relationships to address

trade imbalances;

  1. Preserve peace through strength by rebuilding our military so that it remains preeminent, and rely on allies and partners to shoulder a fair share of the burden of responsibility to protect against common threats; and, …

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  1. Advance American influence by competing and leading in multilateral organizations so that American interests and principles are protected.

While these interests are global in nature, they assume a heightened significance in a region as strategically and economically consequential as the Indo-Pacific.

3.2. U.S. National Defense Strategy

The 2018 National Defense Strategy guides the Department of Defense to support the National Security Strategy in order to:

  1. Defend the homeland;
  2. Remain the preeminent military power in the world;
  3. Ensure the balances of power in key regions remain in our favor; and
  4. Advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity.

Both the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy affirm the Indo-Pacific as critical for America.s continued stability, security, and prosperity. …

The core diagnosis of the National Defense Strategy is that DoD’s military advantage vis-à-vis China and Russia is eroding and, if inadequately addressed, it will undermine our ability to deter aggression and coercion. A negative shift in the regional balance of power could encourage competitors to challenge and subvert the free and open order that supports prosperity and security for the United States and its allies and partners. To address this challenge, DoD is developing a more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating Joint Force, and is increasing collaboration with a robust constellation of allies and partners. …

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“We are adapting to fight against near-peer competitors. Our armed forces are learning to expect to be contested throughout the fight…We are changing our mindset, working to regain our advantages, and playing to our strengths. Alliances and partnerships are at the heart of this competitive effort.”

– Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, Randall G. Schriver, speech at the Elliot School of International Affairs, February 7, 2019

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Current Posture in the Indo-Pacific

In the region, USINDOPACOM currently has more than 2,000 aircraft; 200 ships and submarines; and more than 370,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, DoD civilians, and contractors assigned within its area of responsibility. The largest concentration of forces in the region are in Japan and the ROK. A sizable contingent of forces (more than 5,000 on a day-to-day basis) are also based in the U.S. territory of Guam, which serves as a strategic hub supporting crucial operations and logistics for all U.S. forces operating in the Indo-Pacific region. Other allies and partners that routinely host U.S. forces on a smaller scale include the Philippines, Australia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom through the island of Diego Garcia.

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Future Posture in the Indo-Pacific

To achieve our strategic objectives in the Indo-Pacific, we seek to evolve our posture and balance key capabilities across South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania to have a more dynamic and distributed presence and access locations across the region. For example, as announced by Vice President Pence on November 16, 2018, the United States seeks to partner with Papua New Guinea and Australia on their joint initiative at Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

In order to overcome the tyranny of distance, posture that supports and enables inter- and intra- theater logistics must be flexible and resilient, and the pre-positioning of equipment is critical. Specifically, we are exploring expeditionary capabilities; dynamic basing of maritime and air forces; special operations forces capable of irregular and unconventional warfare; anti-submarine capabilities; cyber and space teams equipped for multi-domain operations; and, unique intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities – among other investments. From leveraging existing access in the Compact States, to pursuing co-development with our most capable allies and partners, we will continue to forward-station leading edge technologies, such as 5th generation fighters in the Indo-Pacific.

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4.2. Line of Effort 2: Partnerships

U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific is rooted in our long-standing security alliances – the bedrock on which our strategy rests. Mutually beneficial alliances and partnerships are crucial to our strategy, providing a durable, asymmetric strategic advantage that no competitor or rival can match.

Expanding our interoperability with allies and partners will ensure that our respective defense enterprises can work together effectively during day-to-day competition, crisis, and conflict. Through focused security cooperation, information- sharing agreements, and regular exercises, we are connecting intent, resources, and outcomes and building closer relationships between our militaries and economies. Increasing interoperability also involves ensuring our military hardware and software are able to integrate more easily with those of our closest allies and partners, offering financing and sales of cutting-edge U.S. defense equipment to security partners, and opening up the aperture of U.S. professional military education to more Indo-Pacific military officers.

To this end, we have strengthened our alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand. These alliances are indispensable to peace and security in the region and our investments in them will continue to pay dividends for the United States and the world, far into the future. We have also taken steps to expand partnerships with Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Mongolia. Within South Asia, we are working to operationalize our Major Defense Partnership with India, while pursuing emerging partnerships with Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Nepal. We are also continuing to strengthen security relationships with partners in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and sustaining engagements with Brunei, Laos, and Cambodia. In the Pacific Islands, we are enhancing our engagement to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific, maintain access, and promote our status as a security partner of choice. Efforts to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific have also brought us closer to key allies, including the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, each with their own Pacific identities.

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Modernizing Alliances


The U.S.-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, with the United States remaining steadfast in its commitment to defend Japan and its administered territories.

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The Department assigns approximately 54,000 military personnel to Japan, in the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, U.S. Marine Corps’ III Marine Expeditionary Force, 3 Air Force wings, and smaller U.S. Army and Special Operations units. Some of the more advanced capabilities stationed in Japan include the F-35, MV and CV-22, and the USS RONALD REAGAN, our only forward deployed aircraft carrier. BMD assets are also tightly woven into our force posture in Japan, including AEGIS Destroyers, sophisticated BMD radar systems, and a PATRIOT firing unit to counter the ballistic missile threat. Enhancing operational cooperation between the U.S. forces and Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF) is also a priority, as outlined in the 2015 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation. Bilateral presence operations throughout the Indo- Pacific region, mutual asset …


The Department is modernizing its force posture in Guam, in keeping with Guam’s position as the westernmost territory of the United States and a strategic hub for our joint military presence in the region. We are establishing a Marine Air Ground Task Force of 5,000 U.S. Marines in Guam starting in the first half of the 2020s as a central feature of the U.S.-Japan realignment plan. In Guam, we have some of the most significant ammunition and fuel storage capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. The addition of rotational maritime lift in Guam will increase the reach of our combat power in the Western Pacific. At Anderson Air Force Base, we have established an active Army Missile Defense capability in response to increasing threats, and maintain a continuous bomber presence and ISR capability. In the CNMI we have air, surface, and subsurface training capabilities and we are taking steps to ensure we will have ready joint forces and opportunities for increased multilateral training.

The Government of Japan has already provided more than $2 billion of a $3.1 billion commitment for construction of facilities for the U.S. Marine Corps realignment. The U.S. Government will fund the balance of construction, estimated at $8.6 billion, and is working toward an outcome that enhances our Indo-Pacific posture, bolsters our security commitments in the region, and directly benefits Guam.

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…protection missions, and bilateral exercises are just a few areas of operational cooperation that U.S. forces and the JSDF collaborate on to advance our shared objectives.

The realignment of U.S. forces in Japan contributes to a regional force posture that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable. We have already made substantial progress on this initiative. Examples include the movement of the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Air Wing Five to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, the stationing of JSDF units on U.S. Air Force and Army bases, and the return of more than 10,000 acres of land in Okinawa to the Government of Japan. Future steps include the completion of the Futenma Replacement Facility and the return of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, as well as the consolidation of our remaining bases and the return of additional land in Okinawa, Japan.


The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The U.S.- ROK Alliance is the linchpin of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, as well as the Korean Peninsula.

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U.S. and Australian forces have shared the battlefield in every major conflict since the First World War and celebrated their “First Hundred Years of Mateship” in 2018. For more than a century, we have conducted joint and coalition operations, training and exercises, intelligence cooperation, and capability development. The United States and Australia share a commitment to building on the interoperability of our armed forces, collaborating to ensure the security of the Indo-Pacific region into the future, and seeking innovative ways to adapt to new threats. …

Both the United States and Australia are strengthening security in the Indo-Pacific through more deliberate coordination of the policies and priorities underlying regional engagements by promoting interoperability to address new threats, increasing focus on the Pacific Islands, and leveraging the U.S.- Australia force posture initiatives and the unique exercising and training opportunities created in the process.

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The 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty provides the foundation for our bilateral security cooperation, along with the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement, and 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). These foundational agreements and our longstanding history enabled U.S. forces to support the Philippines during its battles against ISIS-aligned extremists that captured the city of Marawi in 2017. U.S. Special Operations Forces advisors remain in the country to date and provide our continued support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. …

In December 2018, then-Secretary James Mattis, with authority delegated by the President, returned the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines. The Bells were seized during the U.S.-Philippine War in 1901 and are venerated as religious artifacts by the people of the Philippines. In returning the Bells of Balangiga to the people of the Philippines, the United States cements the tight bond between our two countries and peoples, which is based on respect and shared sacrifice.

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The United States and Thailand established relations in 1818 and shortly thereafter, Thailand became an ally after signing the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833. Our deep and longstanding military- to-military ties with Thailand were formalized in 1954 with the signing of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty (Manila Pact), and in 2003 we reaffirmed our commitment to Thailand by designating it a major non-NATO ally. The 2014 military coup created significant challenges. As Thailand continues to take steps toward democracy, DoD looks forward to strengthening our longstanding defense ties. …

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Strengthening Partnerships

As democracies in the Indo-Pacific, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Mongolia are reliable, capable, and natural partners of the United States. All four countries contribute to U.S. missions around the world and are actively taking steps to uphold a free and open international order. The strength of these relationships is what we hope to replicate in our new and burgeoning relationships in the Indo-Pacific.


Singapore remains a steadfast partner in Southeast Asia with a strong commitment to promote regional and global stability. Our long-standing defense relationship is underpinned by the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding, the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, and the 2015 U.S.- Singapore Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. In the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, the United States designated Singapore a “Major Security Cooperation Partner.” Singapore provides access to U.S. Navy ships, as well as U.S. military aircraft, including most recently littoral combat ships and P-8 Poseidon aircraft, whose presence has contributed to the security and stability of Southeast Asia, and continues to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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“America will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”

– Vice President Pence, remarks at the Hudson Institute, October 4, 2018

The United States has a vital interest in upholding the rules-based international order, which includes a strong, prosperous, and democratic Taiwan. The United States is pursuing a strong partnership with Taiwan and will faithfully implement the Taiwan Relations Act, as part of a broader commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific. Ourpartnership is vital given China’s continued pressure campaign against Taiwan. Taiwan lost three diplomatic partners in 2018, and some international fora continued to deny the participation of representatives from Taiwan. Although China advocates for peaceful unification with Taiwan, China has never renounced the use of military force, and continues to develop and deploy advanced military capabilities needed for a potential military campaign.

The salience of defense engagements has increased as the PLA continues to prepare for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait to deter, and if necessary, compel Taiwan to abandon moves toward independence. The PLA is also preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the mainland by force, while simultaneously deterring, delaying, or denying any third-party intervention on Taiwan’s behalf. As part of a comprehensive campaign to pressure Taiwan, China has increased military exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan, including circumnavigation flights by the PLA Air Force and naval exercises in the East China Sea.

The objective of our defense engagement with Taiwan. is to ensure that Taiwan remains secure, confident, free from coercion, and able to peacefully and productively engage the mainland on its own terms. The Department is committed to providing Taiwan with defense articles and services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. DoD is continually engaged in evaluating Taiwan’s defense needs to assist Taiwan in identifying capabilities that are mobile, survivable, and effective in resisting the use of force or other forms of coercion. Since 2008, U.S. Administrations have notified Congress of more than $22 billion in FMS for Taiwan.

“A strong and secure Taiwan can deter aggression, defend the Taiwan people and their hard-won democracy, and engage on its own terms with the PRC.”

– Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo- Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver, remarks at Stanford University, April 10, 2019


Since the Washington Declaration in 2012, the United States and New Zealand continue to deepen and broaden their defense relationship. The U.S.-New Zealand defense partnership will remain focused on building maritime security presence, capabilities, and awareness; cooperation to develop expeditionary defense capabilities; and sharing information to enable security cooperation and to…

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…prepare to respond to a range of contingencies. New Zealand contributes forces to coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to three United Nations peacekeeping missions, and to UNSCR enforcement operations. …


Since the inception of formal bilateral defense cooperation in 1996, the U.S.-Mongolia defense relationship has developed significantly. Mongolia regards the United States as its most important “third neighbor” and primary security partner. The United States and Mongolia have a comprehensive partnership based on common values and shared strategic interests in protecting and promoting freedom, democracy, economic openness, and human rights worldwide. Mongolia remains regionally and globally engaged as a net security exporter through the Mongolian Armed Forces’ contributions to the United Nations peacekeeping operations in…

p. 33

…Africa, and its continued deployment in Afghanistan to support coalition operations. Moreover, Mongolia continues to enforce U.N. Security Council sanctions that have been unanimously adopted in response to North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The United States supports Mongolia’s efforts to maintain and further develop a modern, professional, and self- sustaining military capable of serving as a fully integrated coalition and U.N. Peacekeeping partner. The United States also assists Mongolia with expanding its capacity to respond to domestic and regional disasters and humanitarian crises. The United States and Mongolia share a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific that safeguards sovereignty and freedom from coercion for all countries. Mongolia’s regional cooperation and support for multilateral institutions contributes to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and serves as a stabilizing influence in the region.

Expanding Partnerships in the Indian Ocean Region

The United States and India share a common outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Both countries recognize the importance of the Indo-Pacific to global trade and commerce and acknowledge that developments in this region will shape the larger trajectory of the rules-based international order. India, through its “Act East” policy, continues to make significant security, economic, and development investments to secure the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The Indian Ocean Region is at the nexus of global trade and commerce, with nearly half of the world’s 90,000 commercial vessels and two thirds of global oil trade traveling through its sea lanes. The region boasts some of the fastest-growing economies on Earth, and is home to a quarter of the world’s population. While the region offers unprecedented opportunity, it is also confronting a myriad of security challenges, including terrorism, transnational crime, trafficking-in-persons, and illicit drugs. To combat these challenges, the United States seeks opportunities to broaden and strengthen partnerships with India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Nepal to respond to shared regional challenges.


The United States and India maintain a broad-based strategic partnership, underpinned by shared interests, democratic values, and strong people-to-people ties. The U.S.-India strategic partnership has strengthened significantly during the past two decades, based on a convergence of strategic interests, and the United States and India continue to use their deepening relationship to build new partnerships within and beyond the Indo-Pacific.

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Since 2015, DoD has strengthened its relationship with Sri Lanka and increased military engagements significantly, particularly with the Sri Lankan Navy. In 2017, we conducted the first port visit in 30 years by a U.S. aircraft carrier – the USS NIMITZ Carrier Strike Group – and the first ever bilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise. In 2019, we increased cooperation on mutual logistics arrangements in support of Indian Ocean security and disaster response.


Following the recent democratic transition in the Maldives, the United States has begun to explore avenues to expand security cooperation, with particular emphasis on providing capacity-building opportunities to the Maldives National Defence Forces and Maldivian Coast Guard. Key areas of focus include: maritime domain awareness (MDA) – to enable Maldivian forces the ability to monitor and patrol its sovereign maritime area and contribute to regional efforts to protect sea lines of communication; HA/DR readiness; and counter-terrorism capability. An additional $7 million in FY 2018 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) will support these efforts.


The United States enjoys a strong defense relationship with Bangladesh, an important partner for regional stability and security. Security cooperation focuses on key areas such as maritime security and domain awareness, counter-terrorism, HA/DR,  peacekeeping, and border security. The annual Bilateral Defense Dialogue between USINDOPACOM and the Bangladesh Armed Forces Division sets the strategic direction of our defense relationship. In addition, recent increases in FMF, International Military Education and Training (IMET), and the inclusion of Bangladesh in the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) underscores not only the value the United States places on its defense partnership with Bangladesh, but also Dhaka’s contributions towards regional stability in support of upholding a rules-based international order in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region.

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The United States seeks to expand our defense relationship with Nepal, focused on HA/DR, peacekeeping operations, defense professionalization, ground force capacity, and counter-terrorism. Our growing defense partnership can be seen in the establishment of the U.S. Army Pacific-led Land Forces Talks in June 2018, our senior-most military dialogue with Nepal. This year has already seen several senior-level visits to Nepal by the USINDOPACOM Commander and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia to further advance our defense relationship.

Expanding Partnerships in Southeast Asia

Through the implementation of the National Defense Strategy in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is prioritizing new relationships with Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia – key players in ASEAN that remain central in our efforts to ensure peace and underwrite prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. All three countries represent engines of economic growth that are strategically located on key sea lanes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. While maintaining independent foreign policies, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia are aligned with the region’s shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and are focused on maintaining peace, stability, and prosperous economic development in the region.


The Department is building a strategic partnership with Vietnam that is based on common interests and principles, including freedom of navigation, respect for a rules-based order in accordance with international law, and recognition of national sovereignty. The U.S.-Vietnam defense relationship has…

p. 37

…grown dramatically over the past several years, as symbolized by the historic March 2018 visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier for the first time since the Vietnam War. …


As the world’s second and third largest democracies, the United States and Indonesia share many common strategic interests, and this year celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations. The United States supports Indonesia’s vision to become a “global maritime fulcrum” straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Indonesia and the United States cooperate on defense issues under the auspices of the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, reaffirmed in October 2015. The Strategic Partnership focuses on six areas for advancing defense cooperation: maritime security and domain awareness; defense procurement and joint research and development; peacekeeping operations and training; professionalization; HA/DR; and countering transnational threats such as terrorism and piracy.

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Malaysia is a key player in Southeast Asia and we will continue to deepen our security and defense cooperation. Our ties have remained strong for many years, and we are working with the Pakatan Harapan Government to further strengthen this important relationship. Malaysia’s regional leadership role, technologically advanced industry, sizeable economy, and capable military make it an important partner in securing peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia. Malaysia has demonstrated the capacity and resolve to contribute to regional security, and we continue to support Malaysia’s emerging security requirements. …

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Sustaining Engagements, Strengthening Foundations

As outlined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia of 1976, Brunei, Laos, and Cambodia embrace ASEAN values including, but not limited to, the mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations; the right of every state to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion, or coercion; and the settlement of differences or disputes in a peaceful manner. These principles underscore the importance of the sovereignty of all nations, and are in line with the U.S. vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. While the United States maintains measured engagements with Brunei, Laos, and Cambodia, we continue to seek opportunities to enhance defense relations as conditions permit.


Military-to-military ties have become a mainstay of the U.S.-Brunei bilateral relationship. The Bruneian Government has welcomed the growth of military ties with the United States and like- minded nations, including with respect to enhancing MDA. In 2018, in addition to the Brunei Navy’s participation in the RIM OF THE PACIFIC Exercise and holding our annual bilateral CARAT Exercise, the Royal Brunei Land Forces and U.S. Army conducted their first bilateral exercise – PAHLAWAN WARRIOR – in Brunei. This year the United States co-hosted with Brunei a multilateral Cooperation Against Transnational Threats workshop. We continue to look for ways to expand our military-to-military cooperation, including through increased information sharing.

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Strategically located in the geographic heart of ASEAN and the Mekong sub-region, Laos presents opportunities for deepening security, economic, and diplomatic engagement. China is increasingly focused on Laos, and Beijing continues efforts to expand its strategic footprint through large debt- fueled investments, especially in infrastructure and energy. However, Laos is wary of overdependence and is seeking to diversify its partners and options. At the same time, Laos is experiencing a significant demographic shift – with a large majority of its population under the age of 35 – which presents a unique opportunity to engage a new, outward looking generation. The Lao military prioritizes Vietnam, Russia, and to a lesser degree China as its primary security partners. At the same time, the Laotian military is slowly expanding its international engagement portfolio, first to ASEAN and to a lesser degree to countries in the region such as Japan, Australia, and India. …


DoD seeks to build a productive military-to-military relationship with the Kingdom of Cambodia that protects its sovereignty, promotes military professionalism, and helps it become a responsible and capable contributor to regional security. In early 2017, Cambodia suspended all military-to-military exercises with the United States. We, however, continue to cooperate in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian mine action, medical research, and U.S. Missing in Action personnel accounting.

Revitalized engagements in the Pacific Islands

We are revitalizing our engagement in the Pacific Islands to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific region, maintain access, and promote our status as a security partner of choice. The Pacific Islands represent a region distinct from other regions in the Indo-Pacific because of the relatively small size of states, unique geography, and challenges to promote economic prosperity. As a Pacific nation itself, …

p. 41

…the United States views the Pacific Islands as critical to the U.S. strategy because of our shared values, interests, and commitments, including U.S. security guarantees to the Freely Associated States. Our shared interests with the Pacific Islands underscore four important components special to this region.

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Engagements with Other Allies


Allies such as the United Kingdom, France, and Canada play a critical role in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. In addition to military capability and regional presence, these allies contribute vital support to upholding free and open principles in the region and globally.

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4.3. Line of Effort 3: Promoting a Networked Region

Shared security in the Indo-Pacific continues to rest on U.S. military presence and a growing network of alliances and close partnerships that promote interoperability and coordination.

p. 45


First, the Department is strongly emphasizing trilateral mechanisms to bring together like-minded allies and partners to maximize individual contributions to regional peace and security and link together nations that previously worked with us mostly separately. The region is more secure when we combine efforts in this way and we will continue to prioritize these important mechanisms.

The ROK, Japan, and the United States trilateral partnership is critical to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. …

The United States is also developing its trilateral partnership with Japan and Australia. …

The United States, India, and Japan also enjoy a robust trilateral partnership. …

p. 46


The United States continues to support ASEAN centrality in the regional security architecture, and the U.S. free and open Indo-Pacific strategy seeks to further empower it. The United States and ASEAN share common values, and ASEAN is a key partner in promoting the values and policies enshrined in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy: freedom of the seas; market economics; good governance; and respect for an order based on clear and transparent rules. As ASEAN nations support one another to maintain the freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of countries within the region, this cohesion strengthens ASEAN’s voice. The United States respects ASEAN’s consensus based decision-making model, and we believe the more ASEAN speaks with one voice, the more it is able to maintain a region free from coercion.

p. 49


Improving security relations among Indo-Pacific countries is critical to regional integration. The Department encourages our allies and partners to develop interconnected security relationships. In some cases, and in recognition of the changing security environment, countries are strengthening their bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral security relationships on their own, and in others, the Department is more directly encouraging new cooperation. As part of these growing ties, countries are signing new defense agreements and arrangements; enhancing training, exercises, and operations; and building partner capacity, helping stabilize the Indo-Pacific.

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The United States is a Pacific nation and has a natural and enduring interest in the Indo-Pacific. For more than 70 years the United States, along with our like-minded allies and partners, has helped underwrite a stable security environment that allowed the people, economies, and nations in the Indo-Pacific to rise and prosper. Our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific encompasses values shared by our allies and partners in the region – one that emphasizes upholding a foundation of mutual respect, responsibility, transparency, and accountability.

As great power competition returns, we will continue to invest, act, and orient ourselves to ensure that the principled international order from which all countries in the region benefit endures. To uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific, we will base our outreach and activities in the region on our strong alliances and partnerships. We will also enhance our posture and presence while building the capabilities of like-minded countries, as we promote a networked and more integrated region, engage our burgeoning set of partners, and invest for the future.

p. 54

The United States will uphold our commitments and will act to defend our interests and those of our allies and partners. At the same time, we maintain our expectation that our allies and partners will contribute their fair share to security by:

4  Resourcing and investing sufficiently for their own defense to ensure deterrence and mitigate vulnerabilities;

4  Cooperating in building partner capacity for third party partners in the region;

4  Upholding a rules-based international order (i.e., flying, sailing, and operating to uphold

international laws and norms);

4  Providing access needed for contingency response and resiliency;

4  Strengthening interoperability, including information sharing, with the United States and other like-minded countries in the region; and,

4  Promoting and actively participating in region-led initiatives to uphold a free and open Indo- Pacific.

The United States, along with our like-minded allies and partners, will continue to be engaged in this dynamic and rapidly growing region. The Department of Defense, in conjunction with other U.S. Government Departments and Agencies, regional institutions, and regional allies and partners, will continue to ensure that the rule of law – not coercion and force – dictates the future of the Indo-Pacific. We will build on our successes to ensure that this region remains peaceful, prosperous, and secure for decades to come.