Strengthen Relationships


03 MAY 2007

Work with allies and partners to build capacity and set conditions for regional security and prosperity.

To increase prospects for long term stability and security in the region, we are working to strengthen relationships between and among regional nations and the United States. We are also trying to influence states and organizations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and operational constructs to contribute to regional stability and work to ensure the free flow of commerce and positive economic growth.

The Central Command theater security cooperation program is built on a foundation of enduring relationships, and to that end, I support the Middle East Peace Process. The synchronized efforts of all the elements of US and international power are key. We are fortunate to have a large number of close, reliable partner nations. Five of these countries, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Pakistan, are Major non-NATO Allies, and of those, Jordan and Bahrain are Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners. Our Theater Security Cooperation Strategy enables regional stability and advances security efforts that protect vital US national interests, and helps partners build capacities to combat terror and become self-reliant.

Theater Security Cooperation programs and combined military training exercises strengthen partner military capabilities, increase interoperability with US forces, encourage professional development, ensure access, and enhance intelligence and information sharing. Most importantly, these efforts cultivate personal relationships and build mutual trust and confidence between US and partner military personnel.

We continue to support these programs as a matter of high priority. Whether they are Department of Defense activities, or paid for with Department of State resources, such as Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and International Military Education and Training (IMET), the assistance we provide to our friends in the region is fundamental to building long-term security partnerships.

FMS is particularly useful in helping our partners build modern, capable forces that can more easily integrate into Coalition operations. However, long administrative delays and procurement lead times undermine responsiveness to emerging threats. 1206 funding is helping to address this problem by allowing the Department of Defense to directly fund security cooperation activities. However, expanded dollar amounts of 1206 funding and including partner security forces engaged in fighting terror would be helpful.

I will work to strengthen relationships with our international partners and allies who are contributing in many important ways to building a better future for people in the region. I would now like to give examples that illustrate the criticality of our own relationships in the region.

Arabian Gulf States. Gulf Cooperation Council members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are important partners in maintaining stability in the Gulf. We will work closely with these governments and their security forces to develop solid bilateral security cooperation programs and build confidence and capacity in their forces.

Each of these states has been a valuable partner in our mutual security efforts. The Bahraini Joint Counter-Terrorism Center has helped several agencies of its government to prepare for potential terrorist attacks. At its Gulf Air Warfare Center, the United Arab Emirates host air exercises that build multilateral cooperation and interoperability among the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, and Jordan. Qatar provides excellent host nation support to our air operations center and the CENTCOM forward headquarters. In 2006, it again hosted the multinational crisis response exercise EAGLE RESOLVE, and successfully planned, coordinated, and supervised security for the Doha Asian Games. Oman, a strategically situated state in the region, partners with US forces in exercises and other activities to help keep global commerce flowing and secure its extensive coastline and borders. In 2006, CENTCOM conducted 38 combined military exercises in the Arabian Gulf with these countries.

Saudi Arabia remains a vital partner, and its campaign against terrorists has significantly degraded al-Qaida operations on the Arabian Peninsula. Central Command will closely link its initiatives to broader US Government efforts to work with the Saudis in their efforts to defeat threats and promote reform. Eight combined military exercises are scheduled for 2007, all designed to increase cooperation and to develop the Kingdom's security capabilities. Our security cooperation efforts will prove increasingly important as we promote multilateral security efforts and counter-proliferation initiatives in the Arabian Gulf area. These are aimed at deterring destabilizing influences and protecting our friends and US interests from aggression.

Our partnerships with these states also provide essential basing and port access, overflight rights, and additional force protection for US units in the region. Our strong partnership with Kuwait has been in place for nearly 20 years. Kuwait remains a steady supporter of Coalition efforts, hosts the Combined Forces Land Component Command, and serves as the primary staging point for forces and equipment rotating into and out of Iraq. I cannot imagine operations in Iraq without the vast support of Kuwait. Bahrain is one of our longest-standing partners and it has welcomed the US Navy for sixty years. It is also home to US Naval Forces Central Command and the United States Fifth Fleet. Though not large countries, each contributes greatly to a better future for all the peoples of the Arabian Gulf.

Egypt. The Arab Republic of Egypt remains a key US ally in the fight against extremism in the region. It strongly supports the Middle East Peace Process and has deployed forces to preserve stability in the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Egypt has been a moderating voice in discussions with Syria, Lebanon, Fatah, and HAMAS, and was among the first regional countries to send humanitarian supplies to Lebanon and to volunteer assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Its position as protector of the Suez Canal and gateway to the Middle East has contributed greatly to Coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of Suez Canal transits and thousands of overflights have expedited US military operations in CENTCOM's Area of Responsibility.

This year, Egypt will again host the biennial BRIGHT STAR combined military exercise, Central Command's largest training event. In 2005, BRIGHT STAR included twelve participating nations and more than 30,000 troops. This year it will include air, naval, ground, and simulated training events that incorporate post-9/11 operational themes designed to improve interoperability.

Unfortunately, Egypt has suffered numerous terrorist attacks, including one aimed at the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai. Egyptian security forces have been diligent partners in combating extremist networks. Continued Foreign Military Financing, Foreign Military Sales and International Military Education and Training funding are needed to develop and modernize forces that contribute significantly to stability in the critical Suez Canal area and the Levant.

Horn of Africa and Yemen. The nations of the Horn of Africa Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, and the Seychelles, are plagued by border tension, insurgencies, corruption, terrorist infiltrations, and poverty. Moreover, Coalition pressure on al-Qaida and other extremist networks in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere increases the potential for some of these terrorists to migrate to the Horn as a place to plan, conduct, and coordinate terror attacks.

CENTCOM's Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTFHOA), with nearly 1,300 US personnel, works closely with US Embassies in the region. It conducts operations, training, and humanitarian missions in the Horn and in Yemen to help nations build capacity to combat terrorism and prepare for other challenges including natural disasters. Activities that it undertakes include training local security forces as well as assisting with civic projects such as wells, schools, and clinics, and providing medical and veterinary services in remote villages. Security capabilities and civil affairs training gained by local forces, coupled with the goodwill engendered by numerous humanitarian operations, increase the regions' resistance to the spread of extremist ideology and fortifies local desires to defeat terrorism before it becomes entrenched.

Jordan. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan remains a key and valuable partner in the fight against violent extremists and contributes significantly to regional stability. Threatened by internal terrorist activities, it has led significant counter-terror efforts.

Jordan is a regional leader in security and counter-terror training, and hosts major initiatives for developing security capabilities. The Peace Operations Training Center has provided more than 1,100 US military leaders and soldiers with valuable cultural awareness and language training. Meanwhile, the Jordanian International Police Training Center has provided training for over 50,000 Iraqi police officers, and other Jordanian schools train Iraqi military forces, air traffic controllers, and aviation inspectors. Upon completion in 2009, the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center will provide a regional capability to train special operations forces. These programs are building competent and capable Iraqi security forces and will help other regional security services improve their effectiveness.

Jordan's other contributions are also important. Its highly trained and disciplined armed forces are a positive example for other militaries with high levels of professionalism and combat effectiveness. Additionally, I would like to recognize the Jordanian doctors and nurses who have established a hospital in Afghanistan and treated over 550,000 Afghans and 1,900 coalition members.

Jordan's strategic location, balanced vision of modernization, and well-developed security establishment give it a regional role and influence that exceed its size. Our programs of military and economic assistance remain vital to encouraging Jordan's continued modernization and leadership in the region.

Pakistan. Pakistani security forces have captured and killed significant numbers of violent extremists, to include high-ranking leaders of al-Qaida and the Taliban. They have also suffered extensive casualties. Our long-term partnership with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is central to defeating extremist groups in the region, and it is difficult to imagine success in that struggle without its support and cooperation. We are working together to reduce the tensions stemming from the radical and violent presence in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Useful initiatives include regular meetings with Pakistan's military leaders, and more robust liaison and communications among our units operating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. While President Musharraf is working to moderate groups within Pakistan and to prevent militants using the FATA for sanctuary, he is faced with a backdrop of potent political, social, and ethnic forces within his country.

Pakistan remains a strong partner of the United States, and our support for its counter-terror efforts will continue with a variety of focused programs. Our security cooperation funding and bilateral exercise programs help the country's government conduct counter-terror operations and enhance its internal stability. Our goal is for Pakistan to view the US as a longterm, preferred international partner, particularly in our efforts to defeat our common enemies.

Central Asian States. Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the Central Asian States of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are playing an increased role in global energy markets. They are also strong partners in the struggle against militant Islamist movements and their Islamic scholars have taken the lead in publicly countering extremist propaganda. However, as with other areas of the CENTCOM region, the Central Asian States contend with a number of threats to stability and security. Restricted oil and gas export options limit their income, geography makes border security especially difficult, and organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and political instability are preeminent concerns. Though local perceptions of US involvement in the region are complex, our access to government officials is strong.

Despite the challenges, there are signs of progress in Central Asia. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan have negotiated a series of agreements that should improve trilateral border security. Over the coming year, Central Command will prioritize engagements that sustain logistics chains for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, reform regional defense institutions, enhance organic counterterrorist and counternarcotics capabilities, further improve border security and disaster preparedness, and prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


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