India/USA — Mullen: U.S.-India Ties Make Region, Globe More Secure

WASHINGTON — The Unit­ed States is com­mit­ted to South and Cen­tral Asia, and deep­er U.S.-Indian mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions will make the region and globe safer and more secure, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said the Unit­ed States and India have both been vic­tims of ter­ror, and that binds togeth­er to two great democ­ra­cies.

“Both of our nations have sac­ri­ficed at the hands of ter­ror and stand stead­fast against all ter­ror­ists,” Mullen said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence. “Both of us have learned a great deal on our own and stand to learn even more from each oth­er in areas like coun­terin­sur­gency, non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, anti-pira­cy and region­al defense.”

Mullen spoke the same day that Tim­o­thy Roe­mer, the U.S. ambas­sador to India, and Home Affairs Min­is­ter G.K. Pil­lai signed a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing on the Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Coop­er­a­tion Ini­tia­tive.

The ini­tia­tive will expand col­lab­o­ra­tion on coun­tert­er­ror­ism, infor­ma­tion shar­ing and capac­i­ty build­ing. The ini­tia­tive looks at clos­er work­ing arrange­ments on trans­porta­tion secu­ri­ty; mon­ey laun­der­ing; mar­itime, port and bor­der secu­ri­ty; cyber­se­cu­ri­ty; and mega-city polic­ing.

The memo is indica­tive of the dri­ve for the Unit­ed States and India to work close­ly togeth­er, Mullen said.

The admi­ral addressed U.S. com­mit­ment to the region and specif­i­cal­ly to Afghanistan. He said India and the Unit­ed States not only want to see a secure and sta­ble Afghanistan, but a secure and sta­ble region.

“Let me assure you that America’s mil­i­tary remains com­mit­ted to our mis­sion in Afghanistan, and that mis­sion does not end in July 2011,” Mullen said.

Dur­ing his West Point speech in Novem­ber 2009, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said the Unit­ed States will begin the process of hand­ing over more author­i­ty to Afghan secu­ri­ty forces begin­ning July 2011. Mullen clar­i­fied what this means, say­ing the Unit­ed States will make the trans­fer “only as fast and as far as con­di­tions on the ground per­mit. No one is look­ing for the door in Afghanistan or out of this region.”

The chair­man praised India for its con­tri­bu­tions to Afghanistan, not­ing India has invest­ed $1.3 bil­lion to improve eco­nom­ic and gov­er­nance con­di­tions in Afghanistan.

The chair­man acknowl­edged that good U.S.-India mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions are vital to con­tin­ued secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty.

“As good as our rela­tion­ship is with the Indi­an mil­i­tary today, tomor­row I would like to see it get even bet­ter,” Mullen said. “I note with pride the many exer­cis­es we con­duct with India, the robust exchange pro­grams we have in place and the healthy mil­i­tary sales ini­tia­tives we pur­sue.”

Mullen said he wants to move the U.S.-India mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship to the next lev­el.

“The region is still too dan­ger­ous, the chal­lenges we face togeth­er are still too great for us not to become bet­ter friends and for our rela­tion­ship to become more rou­tine,” the admi­ral said.

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