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

Admiral said he doesn’t “completely agree” with assistant defense secretary.

National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
March 5, 2014, 9:33 a.m.

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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