Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon chief says building U.S. maritime strength across the Asia-Pacific will be the main project of the new generation of America's naval officers.
In prepared remarks for the class of 2012 graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday that America is returning to its maritime roots.
He told graduates that their work will help strengthen defense ties with China as well as modernize ties with old allies like Japan and Korea and build new partnerships with countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore.
There and across the globe, Panetta said, the Navy and Marine Corps must lead a resurgence of American maritime presence and power.
BY PAULINE JELINEK