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
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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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