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Asia Rising: With a newer and smaller, but more agile force, as outlined by the new US defense strategy, the United States will rebalance its global posture in the coming years, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday. The emphasis will be on the Pacific and Middle East, areas where the Pentagon sees the "greatest challenges for the future," said Panetta. The military will increase its institutional weight and focus on enhanced presence, power projection, and deterrence in Asia, he said. "This region is growing in importance to the future of the United States, our economy, and our national security," said Panetta. This means improving capabilities that maintain the US technological edge and maintain its freedom of action, he said. (Both those goals are at the heart of the Pentagon's AirSea Battle initiative.) In the broader Middle East, the United States will maintain a military presence and build partners capable of deterring and defeating aggression while also supporting efforts at political reform there, said Panetta. On the other hand, Europe will see some changes as the US posture on the continent will, "of necessity, continue to adapt and evolve to meet new challenges," he said. But the United States will not sacrifice its traditional strategic partnerships, like NATO, as it adapts to the shifting global landscape. (Panetta's remarks) (Obama-Panetta-Dempsey transcript)