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Carter Heads to Asia: Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter begins a 10-day trip through the Asia-Pacific region on July 17, his first official visit there as the Pentagon's No. 2 top civilian official. He is scheduled to meet with US Pacific Command leadership in Hawaii, tour facilities in Guam, and meet with senior leaders in India, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. "The purpose of this trip is to engage with key allies and partners in detailed discussions on what the US military's approach to the Asia-Pacific will mean in practice," said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little in a July 16 release. The trip falls on the heels of Defense Secretary's Leon Panetta's trip to the region in May, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey's official visit in June, and PACOM chief Adm. Samuel Locklear's Asia-Pacific swing that started in June (see below). Under the Obama Administration's new defense strategy, the United States places greater importance on maintaining a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region. (AFPS report by Cheryl Pellerin)