For the final time as the Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is headed to Asia with a message and looking to reassure allies that the United States is committed to regional security. This is despite the tightening defense budgets and his own departure. Gates is due to meet his counterparts from Australia, China and other countries at the Shangri-La security dialogue in Singapore before traveling to Brussels for meetings with the officials from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Gates? trip is an effort by the Obama administration to portray the United States is committed to the region.
Gates’ departure from the Obama’s Cabinet will be followed on October 1 by that of Admiral Mike Mullen as chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. General James Cartwright also is stepping down as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
US allies in Asia have been unsettled by the prospect of significant cutbacks in defense spending as Obama is trying to handle the US government?s $1.4 trillion budget deficit.