"We must enhance the capabilities of the regional security architecture, particularly on maritime security," Carter said in a keynote speech, before announcing the new Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative.
"I think this reflects the strong interest in Congress, as well as bipartisan consensus on what we're doing in the region," Shear said.
In addition, some training funding may be earmarked for Brunei, Singapore and Taiwan, if requested by the sSecretary of Defense.
If passed by Congress, the initiative would provide up to $50 million for fiscal year 2016; $75 million for fiscal year 2017; and $100 million in each of fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Shear described the initiative as an effort to "develop more resources" for partner nations to tap into.
"Partner capacity building has been an important piece of our diplomacy in the region for some time," he explained. "We're looking at maritime security shortfalls among our partners and we will be ready to discuss with them what it is they need and how they expect to use it."
Admr. Harry Harris, the newly minted head of US Pacific Command, said he was "excited about the potential" of the funding and how it could help partners in maritime domain awareness.
Ng Eng Hen, Singaporean Minister of Defence, was somewhat more cautious when asked about the new initiative by reporters.
"If the initiative increases, for example, awareness of individual countries to be able to respond peacefully, I think it will be a good one," he said.
But "one hopes that it should not be used to raise temperatures, and it has to be done in the context of a framework which still pushes for peaceful resolution."
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.