"You know, as I see one of the biggest challenges I face in office is to implement our National Defense Strategy. Our National Defense Strategy emphasizes that our principal concern is the Indo-pacific region, and in order to implement that, I need to engage more, I need to — I need to redeploy forces to the area. I need to be more present in the region, as well," Esper said, when asked whether the United States and Australia would cooperate even closer in the face of China's growing activities in the region.
The Pentagon chief pointed out that the United States' strategy was "to grow more partners and to strengthen alliances" in the region.
Esper was speaking at a joint press conference with Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on Thursday after their bilateral talks in Pentagon. The US defence secretary noted that his first foreign trip after assuming the office was to Australia, stressing that the Indo-Pacific region was a priority region for the United States.