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Hagel: "The World Is Exploding All Over"

QUESTION: Good afternoon, sir. My question is that, given that the administration's primary focus is on the Pacific theater, how has all of the issues popping up in the world today, Russia, Iraq, Africa, the rest of the theaters pretty much affected that current mission? And how do you foresee that affecting the mission in the future?

SEC. CHUCK HAGEL: Thank you. That's a -- go ahead, sit down -- that's a question I got often when I was in India and Australia. And the trip I just came from was my sixth trip to the Asia Pacific area in the last year-and-a-half. I've got four planned this calendar year. And so I get that question all the time. It's a legitimate question for the very reasons you asked.

The world is exploding all over. And so is the United States going to continue to have the resources, the capabilities, the leadership, the bandwidth to continue with the rebalance toward the Asia Pacific? And the answer is yes.

And I think, as what I did in taking questions yesterday on this, it is pretty clear on where we are today and what we have committed to do, we are continuing to do. Start with the fact that both Secretary Kerry and I, the secretary of state, secretary of defense, were just in that area for a few days. I've been there six times in the last year-and-a-half. Look at the new things we have done in the Asia Pacific, the new initiatives.

I mentioned Darwin. And we'll get eventually to the 2,500 Marines rotational presence. That's new. The new arrangement we have in Singapore for LCS rotational berths there, that's new. The new arrangement we have with the Philippines on using their bases on a rotational basis, that's new. New and more equipment in Japan and Republic of Korea, that's new.

You (INAUDIBLE) any measurement of what we're doing is an increase in our presence. We've got 360,000 men and women deployed in the Asia Pacific area. We have more deployments, more ships in our Navy in that area than we've ever had in peacetime. We're in more countries, involved in more operations with more partners all over the world than we've ever been in.

Now, that said, as I've said, with that rebalance, which will continue, and we are committed to do that, we're not retreating from any other part of the world. Great powers can't pick and choose which challenges and threats they're going to deal with. There is no power on Earth like the United States of America.

And not only do the people of this country have confidence and must have confidence and rely on you, me, all of us for their security, and security is not just making sure nobody attacks exactly the homeland every day. It's making sure that nobody gets close to threatening our country, but also continuing to work with partners and help our partners. No country is great enough, powerful enough to deal with all these threats and challenges alone in the world today. They're too big, too complex. The world is too complicated.

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