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Security Partner of Choice: The Pentagon on Oct. 4 issued the Western Hemisphere Defense Policy Statement that outlines the roles and missions envisioned for the US military in the western hemisphere to advance the Obama Administration's new defense strategic guidance. "We will seek to be the security partner of choice, enhancing existing partnerships and pursuing new ones with nations whose interests and viewpoints are merging into a common vision of freedom, stability, and prosperity," reads the document. In a resource-constrained environment, the Defense Department "will focus its security cooperation efforts" on activities that "enhance partnering bilaterally and regionally, based on shared security interests," notes the statement. It adds, "Specifically, DOD will support the role of defense institutions in addressing the threats of the 21st Century, help partners develop mature and professional forces, and promote integration and interoperability." The United States will also seek to strengthen "multilateral linkages and mechanisms for defense cooperation," states the document. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said during a briefing on Oct. 4 Panetta would depart on Oct. 5 for a weeklong trip that includes official stops in Peru and Uruguay, including participation in the Defense Ministerial of the Americas. (Policy statement full text) (See also AFPS release.)