The first US-ASEAN Defense Forum to be held on US soil occurred in Honolulu, Hawai‘i on April 1st, 2014, followed the next day by a defense ministerial roundtable. Defense ministers from all 10 ASEAN countries were in attendance.
The forum emphasized not only the U.S. rebalance to Asia, but also the increasing security role of ASEAN in the region, as US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said , “This gathering was an important milestone in America’s growing engagement with the ASEAN nations, and another signal of the important role ASEAN has to play in promoting regional stability and prosperity”.
The forum highlighted cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, with the participation of leaders from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). These areas are growing concerns in the region, particularly after Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines in November 2013. The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) from the Department of Defense predicts that the frequency, scale, and complexity of future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions will increase.
Secretary Hagel stated that security and stability will be the keys to prosperity and economic growth.
After the meetings in Honolulu concluded, Secretary Hagel continued on to Asia, where he will visit Japan for the second time as Secretary of Defense, and China and Mongolia for the first time.