Dempsey Thanks Kuwaiti Leaders for Help in Iraq

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Dec. 17, 2011 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took time on a mul­ti­coun­try USO hol­i­day tour this week to thank Kuwaiti offi­cials for that nation’s crit­i­cal help to U.S. Forces Iraq over the past eight years and now, as the mis­sion is end­ing.

Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey met Dec. 14 with Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber, Prime Min­is­ter Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad, U.S. Ambas­sador to Kuwait Matthew H. Tueller, and Dempsey’s coun­ter­part Lt. Gen. Ahmed al-Khalid, Kuwait Armed Forces chief of staff.

Near the bor­der Kuwait shares with Iraq, at a dwin­dling num­ber of instal­la­tions — such as camps Arif­jan and Vir­ginia and the Khabari al Awazem bor­der-cross­ing facil­i­ty, called K Cross­ing � U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force troops have tak­en in hun­dreds of con­voys and thou­sands of for­mer U.S. Forces Iraq war fight­ers, col­lect­ed and processed their vehi­cles, weapons and equip­ment, and helped send them home.

The chair­man said he thanked “our Kuwaiti part­ners for help­ing us accom­plish this [U.S. Forces Iraq] ret­ro­grade oper­a­tion, which I’ve heard [Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta] describe as some­what his­toric.”

Dempsey also asked Kuwait’s assis­tance as Iraq begins the hard task of adjust­ing to its new sov­er­eign­ty.

“My time in Kuwait would sug­gest that our Kuwaiti part­ners are con­cerned about our work to estab­lish a nor­mal rela­tion­ship with Iraq because there’s still some mis­trust between the two coun­tries that goes back cer­tain­ly to 1990–1991, but his­tor­i­cal­ly far back beyond that,” the chair­man said.

“I’m stop­ping in sev­er­al of the coun­tries on this trip to assure our oth­er part­ners that our lack of phys­i­cal pres­ence in Iraq does­n’t mean we’re tak­ing our eye off of them as a part­ner,” he added, “or that we’re going to stop try­ing to help [Iraq] devel­op respon­si­bly.” Estab­lish­ing a U.S. Office of Secu­ri­ty Coop­er­a­tion in Iraq, as the Unit­ed States has in Kuwait, Sau­di Ara­bia and a num­ber of oth­er coun­tries, will facil­i­tate U.S. mil­i­tary sales there, the chairman’s spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

“The idea,” he added, “is to pull Iraq into the type of nor­mal rela­tion­ships we have with Kuwait and oth­er coun­tries in the region.” Dempsey also seeks to get back to a nor­mal lev­el of mil­i­tary engage­ment with Kuwait.

The nations have been close part­ners since the 1991 sign­ing of a defense coop­er­a­tive agree­ment, Dempsey said, but the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cut into rou­tine U.S.-Kuwait mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary train­ing, exer­cis­es and secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion.

Under pro­vi­sions of the 1991 defense agree­ment, Dempsey added, “we are tak­ing some of the forces that were in Iraq and repo­si­tion­ing them in Kuwait for a peri­od of time.”

The hope is, Lapan said, “that we will get to the point where the rela­tion­ship with Iraq is sim­i­lar to those we have with Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar — all the coun­tries in the region where we have strong mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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