Hagel to attend Shangri-La Dialogue

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will fly to Singapore next month to attend a key conference of Asia-Pacific defense ministers. Hagel told Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon, during a working lunch at the Pentagon on Monday, that he will attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, which is held May 31 to June 2. The conference is ...

DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will fly to Singapore next month to attend a key conference of Asia-Pacific defense ministers.

Hagel told Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon, during a working lunch at the Pentagon on Monday, that he will attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, which is held May 31 to June 2. The conference is named after the hotel in which it is held and hosted by London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

This year, Singapore becomes an even more important strategic hub for U.S. naval interests in the region as the U.S.S. Freedom, the nation’s first littoral combat ship (LCS), arrives later this month for its first-ever forward deployment. Four LCS ships will rotate deployments there, putting the fast-moving, shallow-water vessels into the South China Sea for the first time.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will fly to Singapore next month to attend a key conference of Asia-Pacific defense ministers.

Hagel told Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon, during a working lunch at the Pentagon on Monday, that he will attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, which is held May 31 to June 2. The conference is named after the hotel in which it is held and hosted by London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

This year, Singapore becomes an even more important strategic hub for U.S. naval interests in the region as the U.S.S. Freedom, the nation’s first littoral combat ship (LCS), arrives later this month for its first-ever forward deployment. Four LCS ships will rotate deployments there, putting the fast-moving, shallow-water vessels into the South China Sea for the first time.

“The meeting was an opportunity for Secretary Hagel to hear the prime minister’s views on regional security issues, including how nations can work with one another to peacefully resolve territorial issues in the East and South China Seas,” said Pentagon press secretary George Little, in a statement. The men talked about “Afghanistan, counter-piracy and counter-proliferation efforts.”

The draft agenda for this year’s Shangri-La should come as no surprise to Asian security watchers. Topics include speeches and sessions on: “The U.S. Approach to Regional Security,” “Military Modernization and Strategic Transparency,” “Avoiding Incidents at Sea,” “Defense Diplomacy and Conflict Prevention,” “The Cyber Dimension to Asian Security,” and, of course, China.

U.S. defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Robert Gates attended the important annual gathering in previous years, delivering their own strong pledges to build alliances, remain forward deployed in the region and keep open the waters of the South China Sea. The event is the closest thing the region has to mirror NATO’s defense ministerial meetings, bringing together nations to foster a regional collective defense.

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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