Mullen Addresses Transnational Crime, Military Relations

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2011 — Steps to curb transna­tion­al orga­nized crime, as addressed in a White House ini­tia­tive announced today, are impor­tant to sev­er­ing fund­ing to ter­ror­ists, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Transna­tion­al crime was one of sev­er­al ques­tions Navy Adm. Mike Mullen answered as part of a news brief­ing with the For­eign Press Cen­ter here. The for­eign jour­nal­ists’ ques­tions touched on U.S. mil­i­tary rela­tion­ships around the world, NATO actions in Libya and mis­sile defense.

Asked by a Moroc­can jour­nal­ist about transna­tion­al crime in Africa, Mullen said, “If I was going to pick one area in Africa, it’s been the flow of drugs, lit­er­al­ly across the Atlantic [Ocean] that lands in North Africa and flows into Europe. The enve­lope, if you will, around it is transna­tion­al crime, and it’s some­thing I’ve been con­cerned about for years.”

Such orga­nized crime, Mullen added, “is not just about drugs, … it’s immi­gra­tion, it’s peo­ple, it’s weapons.”

Transna­tion­al orga­nized crime has been a mul­ti­tril­lion-dol­lar per year busi­ness “that ties in very nice­ly with the sup­port of ter­ror­ists,” he said. “I’m extreme­ly con­cerned about that. Tak­ing steps to try to address that trend is an incred­i­bly impor­tant step for­ward.”

White House offi­cials today sent to Con­gress a report, “Strat­e­gy to Com­bat Transna­tion­al Orga­nized Crime: Address­ing Con­verg­ing Threats to Nation­al Secu­ri­ty.”

In answer to ques­tions about the NATO mil­i­tary cam­paign in Libya, Mullen said many coun­tries are work­ing togeth­er in a way he believes will lead to the removal of Libyan leader Moam­mar Gad­hafi from pow­er.

Mullen acknowl­edged that Gadhafi’s forces have adjust­ed to NATO’s oppo­si­tion tac­tics, “and that’s not a sur­prise.”

But, the chair­man said, “In the long run, it’s a strat­e­gy which will work” with respect to remov­ing Gad­hafi from pow­er.

There has been no deci­sion by the Unit­ed States to arm the Libyan oppo­si­tion move­ment, Mullen said, and NATO forces have suc­ceed­ed in chip­ping away at Gadhafi’s forces through attri­tion.

Asked about U.S. mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions with Chi­na, and how it is affect­ed by U.S. sup­port for Tai­wan, Mullen said he expects a pres­i­den­tial deci­sion by Oct. 1 as to whether the Unit­ed States will again sell arms to Tai­wan, risk­ing its rela­tion­ship with Chi­na. It’s an issue he has dis­cussed recent­ly with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Gen. Chen Bingde, he said.

Clear­ly, the Chi­nese would strong­ly pre­fer we stop doing this,” he said. “My point is, we have a rela­tion­ship and a respon­si­bil­i­ty, and there are legal respon­si­bil­i­ties in my coun­try to sup­port the Tai­wan Rela­tions Act. … I would hope that in the future when we come up against these very dif­fi­cult issues, we are able to sus­tain the mil­i­tary rela­tions that have been renewed and have the abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er. Ter­mi­nat­ing that, even tem­porar­i­ly, has a sig­nif­i­cant down­side for sta­bil­i­ty in the region.”

Asked by a Pak­istani jour­nal­ist about U.S. mil­i­tary rela­tions with Pak­istan, the chair­man said there is a “recal­i­brat­ing” of rela­tions there, as reflect­ed in a recent deci­sion to defer $800 mil­lion in U.S. fund­ing to the Pak­istani mil­i­tary.

Still, he said U.S. fund­ing con­tin­ues to flow freely for civil­ian assis­tance in Pak­istan and he believes both sides want to con­tin­ue their rela­tion­ship to sus­tain sta­bil­i­ty in the region.

We are in a very dif­fi­cult time right now,” he said. “That said, I don’t believe we’re close to sev­er­ing [rela­tions], and we shouldn’t do that. Sus­tain­ing this rela­tion­ship is crit­i­cal. We’ve been through dif­fi­cult times with them in the past and we should see this dif­fi­cult time through in sus­tain­ing this rela­tion­ship over time.”

Asked about mis­sile defense in Europe, the admi­ral said, “We’re in dis­cus­sions with an awful lot of coun­tries,” and much is unre­solved in terms of time, place and cost.

Also, he said, “vig­or­ous dis­cus­sion” between U.S. and Russ­ian offi­cials over mis­sile defense is ongo­ing. “There are areas where we agree and dis­agree, but we’re going to con­tin­ue to work on it.”

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