The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta’s trip last week to Asia was largely over­shad­owed by the sex scan­dal that en­gulfed CIA Di­rec­tor David H. Pe­traeus and also de­layed the pro­mo­tion of Gen. John Allen, com­man­der of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Con­cerns over the com­ing fis­cal cri­sis and a pos­si­ble $660 bil­lion de­fense bud­get cut also dom­i­nated de­bate in Wash­ing­ton and dis­tracted at­ten­tion from the Pen­tagon’s new shift to Asia.

Still, Mr. Panetta said the new de­fense strat­egy is “very im­por­tant,” and he out­lined the Pen­tagon’s so-called pivot to Asia in a meet­ing with re­porters aboard his Air Force jet on the way to Aus­tralia for a min­is­te­rial meet­ing.

Asked whether the shift of forces and al­liances to Asia would un­der­mine se­cu­rity ef­forts in the Mid­dle East, the de­fense sec­re­tary said:

“Look, the United States is the strong­est mil­i­tary power in the world, and we re­main the strong­est mil­i­tary power in the world. And that means that we can walk and chew gum at the same time, which means that we have to cover the threats that ex­ist in the world, not just in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, but throughout the world. And that’s what we’re do­ing.”

In Asia, Mr. Panetta out­lined the steps be­ing taken to bol­ster forces in the re­gion that de­fense of­fi­cials say is covertly aimed at coun­ter­ing China’s new high-tech weaponry but pub­licly de­scribed as ad­vanc­ing gen­eral peace and se­cu­rity.

“I want to stress for all of you that the re­bal­anc­ing to this re­gion is a very im­por­tant part of the new de­fense strat­egy

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