Joint Chiefs Chairman Begins Pacific Trip
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii, May 28, 2008 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has begun a swing through the Pacific that will take him to Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Korea.
After a 30-hour flight from Washington aboard a C-17, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen will meet with Indonesian leaders in Jakarta. Indonesia is the fourth-largest country in the world and the largest majority Muslim nation. Officials traveling with the chairman said Indonesia has been a firm ally in the war on terror. Jemaah Islamiyah -- a terror group affiliated with al-Qaida -- has launched terror attacks in Bali and in Jakarta. The way forward against such groups and improving military-to-military contacts between Indonesia and the United States will dominate the discussions.
"It's not limited to that," a Joint Staff official, said on background. "We’re going to listen to whatever concerns the Indonesians have."
Following the meetings, Mullen will fly to Singapore to participate in the Shangri-La Dialogue. The meeting is the premier defense meeting in the Pacific, and the chairman will meet up with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. The two will attend presentations and then hold a number of bilateral meetings with ministers of defense and chiefs of defense who also are attending the conference.
After the meetings end, Mullen will travel to the Philippines, where he will observe anti-terror exercises and meet with senior defense and government officials. The Philippines is a U.S. treaty ally.
The chairman will leave Manila to attend the change-of-command ceremony for Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea in Seoul. Once again he will meet up with Gates as Army Gen. Burwell B. Bell turns over command to Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp.