Fresh off a trip to India and Australia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed a group of Marines in San Diego, California Tuesday, and may have delivered a line that will show up in Republican campaign ads this election cycle. After updating the troops on some issues in the Pacific region and the Middle East, Hagel took questions from some of the Marines and gave a stark assessment of the global security situation: “The world is exploding all over.” The remark came in response to a question about the Obama administration’s realignment of the military towards the Asia-Pacific theater:
Q: Good afternoon, sir. My question is that, given that the administration’s primary focus is on the Pacific theater, how has all of the issues popping up in the world today, Russia, Iraq, Africa, the rest of the theaters pretty much affected that current mission? And how do you foresee that affecting the mission in the future?
SEC. HAGEL: Thank you. That’s a — go ahead, sit down — that’s a question I got often when I was in India and Australia. And the trip I just came from was my sixth trip to the Asia Pacific area in the last year-and-a-half. I’ve got four planned this calendar year. And so I get that question all the time. It’s a legitimate question for the very reasons you asked.
The world is exploding all over. And so is the United States going to continue to have the resources, the capabilities, the leadership, the bandwidth to continue with the rebalance toward the Asia Pacific? And the answer is yes.
Hagel went on say that, despite the rebalancing towards the Pacific, the US will not be “retreating” from any threats elsewhere in the world.