Mullen: Anniversary Reaffirms U.S.-Kuwaiti Bonds

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)

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