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US Pacific Commander Sees No Major Changes Under Obama

The commander of U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific says he does not anticipate any major change in U.S. military policy toward the region when President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

The Pacific Commander, Admiral Timothy Keating, says he has not yet met Mr. Obama, but his staff is preparing material for the president-elect and other senior officials to ensure they know his thoughts on regional strategy.

"We are developing a series of presentations to give the new secretary of defense, the new secretary of state, new president, vice president, national security adviser, that will emphasize the importance of the Asia-Pacific region," he said. "I am confident that President-elect Obama and those of his cabinet are well aware of the importance of our region."

Speaking to reporters in New York this week, Admiral Keating said he does not plan to recommend any sweeping strategy changes, and does not expect the new administration to call for any.

"Our presentation to him will not recommend major change," he said. "It will recommend continued emphasis on partnership and the assurance of military response when necessary. I don't anticipate a major change."

In the U.S. military, there is clearly much focus on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Admiral Keating says in the long term he believes U.S. strategic interests are shifting to the east.

"If you look at it from an economic perspective, from energy demands, from environmental concerns, from education, medicine, military capabilities, it is, in our opinion, an unmistakable fact that emphasis will continue to shift to the Asia-Pacific region," he said. "We will do our best to apprise the new president and his cabinet of the importance of the Asia-Pacific region, and I'm sure we'll have a receptive audience."

Admiral Keating, who has led the largest U.S. military regional command for nearly two years, notes that President-elect Obama spent parts of his youth in Indonesia and in Hawaii, and he believes the future commander-in-chief is "well versed" on issues related to the Asia-Pacific region.