Saturday, June 02, 2018

President Presides at Coast Guard Change-of-Command Ceremony

By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard are America's first line of defense, President Donald J. Trump said at the Coast Guard’s change-of-command ceremony today.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul F. Zukunft handed command to Adm. Karl L. Schultz at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters here.

“On behalf of the American people, I thank you for a lifetime of noble service. Congratulations on everything you have achieved,” Trump told Zukunft, who has 45 years of service.

Zukunft “has led every kind of mission and he has never backed down, ever, ever, ever,” Trump said, adding Zukunft “has lead with extraordinary skill and devotion and pride.”

During Zukunft’s tenure as Coast Guard commandant, “he poured his heart and soul into the service of our nation, and he brought remarkable vision to the task of ensuring the Coast Guard's rightful place at the forefront of American security and prosperity,” the president said.

“America is safe because our Coast Guard is strong,” Trump added.

The president called the Coast Guard the elite force that defends U.S. borders, patrols its waters, protects its cities and keeps its enemies at bay.


Zukunft sharpened the Coast Guard's focus on the Western Hemisphere, a crucial legacy that will endure, Trump said, noting there is greater emphasis on drug interdiction and the formation of historic partnerships to stop that “deadly poison” from reaching U.S. shores and destroying its youth and others.

Zukunft worked tirelessly to protect America's interest in the Arctic, the president said.

“[With our] new budget, $700 billion … this year, $716 billion next year … you're going to be very well taken care of,” Trump said, adding that the Coast Guard is on course to receive its “first new, heavy icebreaker in more than 40 years, and plenty other ships and boats and equipment and everything you need.”

The nation is committed to a military and security budget that funds and recognizes the Coast Guard's vital role, he said.

“There is no better investment than giving you the tools you need to keep drugs, criminals and terrorists out of our country,” the president said.

Zukunft also spearheaded a new and important Coast Guard cyber strategy, the president said. “And he was at the forefront,” Trump said of Zukunft. “He recognizes that we must harden our industry, ports and waterways against cyber intrusion.”

Coast Guard members help “secure our borders against traffickers, smugglers, criminals -- some of the worst people anywhere on earth. And we feel secure,” the president said.

And, through driving winds and pounding rain and thundering seas, the Coast Guard is always there, doing what it does best: saving lives, Trump said.

Hurricane Heroes

“In last year's historic hurricane season, our Coast Guard -- heroes they are -- saved almost 12,000 American lives in that short period. It's an unbelievable number,” he said.

Many service members left their homes and families to plunge out of helicopters, wade through perilous waters, care for the wounded and rescue the stranded, Trump said.

The president told Zukunft that his selfless courage has earned the gratitude of the nation. “With this ceremony, we proudly pass the helm of the United States Coast Guard to the man who oversaw those emergency operations: Admiral Karl Schultz,” the president said to applause.

As commander of the Coast Guard, Atlantic area, Schultz took responsibility for the Coast Guard response across the Gulf Coast, the Atlantic and the Caribbean, Trump said.

“I have complete confidence that Karl will carry out his new mission with the same talent, strength and devotion that have characterized his entire career,” the president said.

To new Coast Guard commandant Schultz, Trump said, “Karl, we congratulate you and we thank you for answering this call to service.”

Alliances, Partnerships Critical to U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy, Mattis Says

By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. treaty allies and other partners, America seeks to build an Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and territorial integrity are safeguarded and the promise of freedom is fulfilled and prosperity prevails for all, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said today in Singapore.

Addressing the 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue, the secretary said the Indo-Pacific strategy stands in firm support of America's recently released National Defense strategy.

“[The strategies] take a clear-eyed view of the strategic environment, and they recognize that competition among nations not only persists in the 21st century, in some regard it is intensifying,” Mattis said.

And both strategies affirm that the Indo-Pacific region is critical for America's continued stability, security and prosperity, he added.

“In [America's Indo-Pacific strategy], we see deepening alliances and partnerships as a priority. [The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’] centrality remains vital and cooperation with China is welcome wherever possible,” the secretary said.

“So, make no mistake -- America is in the Indo-Pacific to stay,” he noted.

“This is our priority theater; our interests and the regions are inexplicably intertwined,”Mattis said. “Our Indo-Pacific strategy makes significant security, economic and development investments.”

The U.S. strategy recognizes no one nation can or should dominate the Indo-Pacific, he said. “For those who want peace and self-determination, we all have shared responsibility to work together to build our shared future.”

Elements of Strategy Outlined

The secretary highlighted several themes of the strategy:

-- Expanding attention on the maritime space: “The maritime commons is a global good, and the sea lanes of communication are the arteries of economic vitality for all,” he said.

“Our vision is to preserve that vitality by helping our partners to build up naval and law enforcement capabilities and capacities to improve monitoring and protection of maritime borders and interests,” he added.

-- Interoperability: The United States recognizes a network of allies and partners is a force multiplier for peace, the secretary said. “Through our security cooperation, we are building closer relationships between our militaries and our economies, all of which contribute to enduring trust,” he added.

-- Strengthening the rule of law, civil society and transparent governance: “This is the sunlight that exposes the malign influence that threatens sustainable economic development,” Mattis said.

-- Private sector-led development: The United States recognizes the region’s need for greater investment, including infrastructure, he noted, adding, “We are reinvigorating our development and finance institutions to enable us to be better, more responsive partners.

“U.S. agencies will work more closely with regional economic partners to provide end-to-end solutions that not only build tangible products, but also transfer experience and American know-how so growth is high value and high quality, not empty promises and surrender of economic sovereignty,” he said.

U.S. Stands Ready

The United States stands ready to cooperate with all nations to achieve this vision, Mattis said.

“While a free and open Indo-Pacific is in all our interests, it will only be possible if we all pull together to uphold it,” he said.

“A generation from now, we will be judged on whether we successfully integrated rising powers while increasing economic prosperity, maintaining international cooperation based on agreed-upon rules [and] protecting fundamental rights of our peoples and avoiding conflict,” the secretary said.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy informs its relationship with China, he noted. “We are aware China will face an array of challenges and opportunities in coming years. We are prepared to support China’s choices if they promote long-term peace and prosperity for all in this dynamic region.”

China’s Policy

Yet China’s policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness of the U.S. strategy, Mattis said, adding that it calls into question China’s broader goals.

“The United States will continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, [and] cooperation whenever possible will be the name of the game, and competing vigorously where we must,” he said.

“Of course, we recognize any sustainable Indo-Pacific order as a role for China, and at China’s invitation, I will travel to Beijing soon in an open, transparent approach, broadening and deepening the national dialogue between our two Pacific nations,” the secretary said.

As a Pacific nation, the United States remains committed to building a shared destiny with the Indo-Pacific region, he said, adding the nation offers strategic partnerships and not strategic dependence.

“Alongside our allies and partners, America remains committed to maintaining the region’s security, its stability and its economic prosperity -- a view that transcends America’s political transitions, and will continue to enjoy Washington’s strong bipartisan support,” Mattis said.

Secretary Meets With Japanese, Indonesian Defense Ministers in Hawaii

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with his Japanese and Indonesian counterparts in Hawaii, May 29, as he was en route to attend the 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Mattis stopped off in Honolulu to attend the change-of-command ceremony for U.S. Pacific Command, now renamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

During his meeting with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Mattis and his Japanese counterpart re-affirmed that they remain committed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile and chemical and biological programs, DoD spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement.

Mattis commended Japan’s lead role disrupting North Korea’s illegal ship-to-ship transfers in the region and for allowing multinational forces to temporarily operate from Japan supporting the enforcement of relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, Davis said.

Free, Open Indo-Pacific Region

Both ministers affirmed a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, Davis said, and the importance of bilateral, trilateral and multilateral relationships and mechanisms to reinforce a networked security architecture that supports the regional order.

Davis said the ministers discussed other regional security issues, including the importance of maritime security; and reaffirmed that freedom of navigation and overflight must be ensured, and that disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner.

Both ministers, he said, noted China’s actions to militarize disputed features run contrary to the goal of a peaceful, rules-based and open Indo-Pacific region.

Davis said Mattis reaffirmed the ironclad U.S. defense commitments to Japan, and pledged U.S. assistance to maintain regional peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

And, during Mattis’ meeting with Indonesian Minister of Defense Ryamizard Ryacudu, the two leaders shared views on regional security and emphasized the importance of continued Association of Southeast Asian Nations centrality and close cooperation to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific and safeguard the rules-based international order, Davis said in a statement.

The secretary shared Ryamizard's concerns regarding violent extremism, particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-inspired suicide attacks against three churches earlier this month in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, Davis said. The two leaders agreed on the need to collectively address the shared threat of terrorism and to continue close cooperation with regional stakeholders.
Mattis relayed his deep appreciation for the broad range of U.S.-Indonesia security cooperation and commended the progress of the Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippine trilateral air and maritime patrols of the Sulu and Celebes Seas, Davis said.