Chairman’s Travels Illustrate U.S. Global Interests
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, June 3, 2014 The past month illustrates the tremendous agility, capability and reach of the U.S. military, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today during an interview on his way home from Saudi Arabia.
U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Joseph W. Westphal and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meet with Saudi Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Al-Banyan, deputy chief of the general staff, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 2, 2014. DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s travels alone illustrate the breadth of America’s global interests.
The United States had to respond to a Russian proxy/surrogate conflict in Ukraine. American troops and equipment shored up NATO defenses in Eastern Europe. Dempsey met with NATO chiefs of defense to help formulate the policy for that and for other dangers to the alliance.
NATO has seen extraordinary change on its eastern border with Russia, but also on its southern flank, where drug trafficking, illegal immigration and possible infiltration by terror networks pose a danger.
Added to that is the change in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama announced that almost 10,000 American service members will stay to train and assist Afghan security forces when the NATO International Security Assistance Force mission concludes at the end of this year.
This week, the chairman visited the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“Middle Eastern leaders are concerned we are rebalancing to the Pacific [and that] we’ve got new and emerging challenges in Europe, and that they will be forgotten,” Dempsey said. “The visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia was intended to assure them that we still have the capability, capacity and the will to do more than one thing at a time, and we haven’t forgotten them.”
The chairman also assured Middle Eastern leaders that while there has been some diplomatic progress on Iran with the nuclear issues, the country “still remains a concern to us on other things, notably surrogates, proxies, proliferation of ballistic missiles, arms trafficking and cyber.”
Sandwiched between his visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia was the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The annual Asia security summit brings defense leaders from around the world to meet and discuss issues of national and international importance.
At this year’s conference, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took China to task for not following international protocols in solving territorial disputes. The United States used the forum to express concerns about a Chinese strategy that has included the threat of military force to coerce nations. The United States -- which has no opinion on the territorial disputes in East Asia -- just wants these disputes settled using diplomacy and the legal system, numerous officials have said.
Dempsey said it is a sign of the maturation of the military-to-military process between the two countries that China could listen to U.S. criticism and not be offended.
“That is to say we can disagree on things, but we can also find points of common interest and continue to make progress on those,” he explained. “The criticism of the Shangri-La Dialogue was also in the spirit of the event -- to bring nations together from around the globe to ask tough questions and seek a different level of transparency among nations.”
The chairman said he believes China got the message that its behavior may isolate it from other nations. All the nations attending the Shangri-La Dialogue expressed concern about the Chinese threat of military force, Dempsey said. “It’s a flawed formula, and I think they got that message,” he added.
Next week, the chairman continues his travels and consultations with a visit to one of America’s closest allies, Great Britain.