KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, Feb. 26, 2011 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joined in festivities today celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kuwait’s liberation during Operation Desert Storm and the 50th anniversary of its independence.
“I am very proud to represent the United States here in Kuwait, as Kuwaitis celebrate their independence and our combined victory in Desert Storm,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters today before attending a massive military parade an hour’s drive from the capital in Al-Subiya.
Calling the celebration “a terrific occasion,” Mullen said it “speaks to the strong bond of partnership we have with this country and our close military relationship.” Mullen expressed particular appreciation for Kuwait’s support for current military operations. He praised its “exceptional logistic support as we continue to flow our forces and resources out of Iraq.”
“That support has been critical,” he said.
Before today’s ceremonies, Mullen tweeted that he felt honored to participate, calling Liberation Day “a true testimony of their resilience and perseverance.”
“I think the word ‘liberation’ says it all,” he said during an interview yesterday with the Kuwait News Agency. It’s significant, he said, in showing the commitment of the United States and its coalition partners’ efforts “to restore Kuwait to its rightful position and then to have watched Kuwait evolve” during the past two decades.
It’s been exciting to watch Kuwait’s movement toward democracy and the opportunities increasing for the Kuwaiti people, he said. “That’s been very positive to watch.”
Mullen also recognized Kuwait’s role as a “lynchpin” in the Gulf Cooperation Council and the support it provides to U.S. forces training here for and supporting ongoing military operations.
“The support, the friendship and the partnership has grown,” Mullen said. “It is substantial, and certainly we look to the future for it to continue to grow.” Mullen emphasized the importance of a strong and enduring U.S.-Kuwaiti military partnership. “We’ve had commitments to Kuwait for a significant amount of time,” he said. “The bilateral military relationship is strong and expected to continue.”
The chairman congratulated the Kuwaitis for achieving this milestone commemoration and noted the atmosphere of celebration that’s taken Kuwait by storm. “I can see, driving here, how excited the people of Kuwait are,” he said.
Army Lt. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., commander of Third Army, U.S. Army Central and Coalition Forces Land Component Command, noted a sense of pride in the air. “It’s a great day,” he said. “The troops look great today and I know the Kuwaitis are very proud.”
Webster said participating in the Liberation Day events “makes me feel very proud – not only of our own American forces, the Marines and the Army and the Air Force and the Navy, but also our coalition partners here in the region.”
Webster emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Kuwaiti dialog.
“They are a modern country that is striving toward democracy, and they are watching us,” he said. “They have been good partners for many, many years and it is important for us to maintain good relations with them because we need friends in the world. And they are good friends.”
The general said he travels frequently through the region meeting chiefs of defense from other countries, “and it really makes me proud to see them here and proud of their forces.”
Ultimately, Webster said, relationships — with the Kuwaitis and other regional nations — are key in maintaining stability and security. “It’s always better to talk with people than have to fight them,” he said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)