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Military Official Distances Himself From Comment That Asia Pivot Can't Happen

Admiral said he doesn't "completely agree" with assistant defense secretary.

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The Obama administration is shifting its foreign policy focus to the Asia-Pacific region.(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A top Pentagon official on Wednesday distanced himself from an earlier comment that the department's shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific region can't happen.

Katrina McFarland, assistant Defense secretary for acquisition, caught the attention of the defense world with her comments on Tuesday when, speaking at a conference in Arlington, she said, "The pivot is being looked at again, because, candidly, it can't happen."

 

Defense News reported McFarland's comments, which tied the current budget crunch to the U.S.'s Asia-Pacific refocus.

Adm. Samuel Locklear III, the commander for the U.S. Pacific Command, said he "wouldn't completely agree with it," when asked about the comment at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing Wednesday on the Pentagon's fiscal 2015 budget request.

But he did say that while his command is moving forward with the shift, future budgets will play a role.

 

"The real question is whether or not the force that Congress will eventually buy is it adequate for the security environment," Locklear said, noting that the shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific stretches beyond only the Defense Department.

McFarland, for her part, later clarified her reported comments, saying in a statement: "I was asked a question about the budget ... and how it relates to our pivot to Asia. I was reiterating what Secretary Hagel said last week: That the shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific requires us to 'adapt, innovate, and make difficult (budgetary and acquisition) decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable.' That's exactly what we've done in this budget. The rebalance to Asia can and will continue."

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