For more than seven decades, U.S. engagement has advanced freedom, openness, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The President’s National Security Strategy identified advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific among our most important priorities. The United States aims to ensure the freedom of the seas and skies, promote market economics, support good governance, and insulate sovereign nations from external coercion, while enabling partners to protect and advance the rules-based order. At the ASEAN Regional Forum on August 4, Secretary Pompeo announced the intent to provide nearly $300 million in security assistance to improve security relationships across the Indo-Pacific region. This assistances includes $290.5 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), and peacekeeping capabilities, and $8.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds to counter transnational crime. This funding commitment comes shortly after Secretary Pompeo and other senior Administration officials announced new economic and development initiatives at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington DC, demonstrating a strong, whole-of-government U.S. commitment to both economic and security engagement and assistance in the Indo-Pacific.
The security assistance funding will cover projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and others, in the following areas:
Free and open access to the maritime domain is a cornerstone of the Indo-Pacific strategy and is essential to U.S. national security. As part of this strategy, the United States will work with partners across the Indo-Pacific region to develop coastal radar-enhanced maritime domain awareness (MDA) with manned and unmanned aerial systems, maritime platforms for rapid deployment of HA/DR efforts, and increased information sharing mechanisms to link security and defense institutions at the operational level.
- Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands: The United States will work with partners in Southeast Asia and the Pacific to help nations successfully monitor their Exclusive Economic Zones and address transnational threats. Assistance will focus on training and logistical support to improve MDA and patrol capacity, as well as professionalization and maintenance capacity to assist partners in developing defense and security institutions.
- Bay of Bengal Initiative: The Bay of Bengal is rich in natural resources and home to vital sea lanes linking the Indian Ocean region to East Asia. The United States currently shares commercial shipping information with India and will work with other partners in the Bay of Bengal, including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to enhance the capacity of civilian and military maritime actors in the Indian Ocean Region to improve the target areas of detection, information-sharing, and response to emerging threats.
Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Assistance
Efforts to prepare for and respond to natural disasters save lives and reduce the economic consequences of such events. U.S. HA/DR support will focus on improving Search and Rescue capabilities, the development of disaster risk reduction strategies, and logistical support to provide short-term solutions in times of need.
The Indo-Pacific countries are steady contributors to UN peacekeeping missions, with Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Fiji, and Nepal consistently among the top-ten troop-contributing countries. The United States will continue to work with partners in the Indo-Pacific to strengthen both regional and global peacekeeping capabilities and address critical mission shortfalls by focusing on the deployment of enabling capabilities.
Countering Transnational Crime
The United States will support regional efforts in South and Southeast Asia to counter transnational crime by strengthening border security to counter illicit trafficking of people, narcotics and goods; expanding security sector and law enforcement cooperation with emerging democracies; promoting safe and efficient commerce; and strengthening the rule of law to counter corruption.