Key admiral: 21st century will be 'century of the Asia-Pacific'

"While the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific," the new strategy states. "We will ... expand our networks of cooperation with emerging partners throughout the [region] to ensure collective capability and capacity for securing common interests."

To that end, the Obama administration already has inked deals with several Asia-Pacific states for U.S.-made fighter jets and helicopters, as well as to permanently host American troops.

The strategy notes Beijing’s secretive military buildup. And it says the Pentagon will spend whatever it takes to keep access to and the ability to “operate freely” in China’s backyard.

The strategy makes the Asia-Pacific region "first among equals," according to U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Robert Willard.

That means Hawaii, where the command is headquartered, will take on a larger strategic import for years to come, Willard said at a military conference there.

Willard noted his command is the only one the U.S. military has where a command's "component commands," a setup he said "creates synergy."

Hawaii is the military's "crossroads to Asia," he said, making it the Pentagon's "most strategic ... entry point to Asia."