WASHINGTON, May 23, 2014 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel next week begins a 12-day trip that ranges from Alaska to the Straits of Malacca to the Black Sea, marking the intensity of DOD's global engagement and the secretary's own commitment to sustaining the effort, the Pentagon press secretary said today.
Hagel's 14th international trip will focus on Asia and Europe, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters during a briefing here this afternoon, and the secretary's first stop will be Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, where he will receive briefings on missile defense and homeland defense.
While there, the secretary "will have an opportunity to thank service members and their families, who are playing a vital role in our nation's defense in Alaska," the admiral said.
Hagel will then travel to Singapore, where he will deliver remarks at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue and hold a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings with other ministers of defense.
"This will be his fifth trip to the Asia-Pacific region," Kirby said, and it comes on the heels of Hagel's successful trip last month to Japan, China and Mongolia, and his hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN defense ministers in Hawaii.
Hagel initiated the informal meeting of the ASEAN defense ministers, and it was the first meeting ever held on American soil.
"It is an important opportunity to build on the momentum we've achieved in strengthening our engagement, our alliances and our partnerships in the Pacific region," Kirby added.
From Singapore, the secretary will travel to Brussels to participate in his fourth NATO Defense Ministers' Meeting.
"He views this as a particularly important meeting," Kirby said, "as it is the first since Russia's incursions into Ukraine and the last before September's NATO Summit in Wales."
As Hagel discussed earlier this month in his speech at the Wilson Center here in Washington, the admiral added, "the secretary believes our European allies must use this crisis as an opportunity to revitalize NATO and enhance their commitments to collective defense, so I certainly expect that will be a major theme of his discussions while in Brussels."
Next, Hagel will visit Romania, a valued NATO ally. Kirby said the stop gives Hagel a chance to visit sailors aboard a U.S. Navy ship that will be in port there and to consult bilaterally with Romania's minister of defense on ways to strengthen NATO's deterrents.
From Romania, the secretary will travel to France to participate in the 70th anniversary commemorations of D-Day with President Barack Obama, other cabinet officials, and leaders from around the world.
"[Hagel] has been looking forward to paying tribute to the heroes of D-Day for some time," Kirby said, "and he will also have the opportunity, while there, to meet bilaterally with his French counterpart."
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