Pace: Partnerships Critical in Facing Terrorism, Other Challenges
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 6, 2006 No country is too big and powerful to need alliances or too small to have a stake in molding a secure future, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during his visit here today.
Indian Army Training Command Commander Lt Gen. Kuldip Jamwal shows Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace the facilities of the Army Indian Training headquarters in Shimla, India, June 6. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace emphasized the importance of partnerships after being introduced here at an Indian security think tank as the top military officer of the world's only superpower nation.
"What that means to me is that we need as many friends as we can get," Pace said at the United Service Institution of India. "There is no nation on the planet that is so large that it can handle all the challenges ahead by itself. And there is no nation on the planet that is so small that it cannot have positive strategic influence."
Pace called India - the world's largest democracy with a diverse population that's second in size only to China's - is an important player on the world stage and a valuable security partner to the United States.
"From where I sit, it is absolutely a natural partnership that we should go together into the future," the chairman said. He lamented missed years of cooperation between the two countries and said he's pleased they're now "literally holding hands as we go into the future."
Following two busy days meeting with Indian military and government leaders, Pace said he's optimistic they can expand their military-to-military relationship in a way that serves both countries' best interests.
Yesterday, the chairman visited Adm. "Arun" Prakash, India's Naval Staff chief and chairman of its Chiefs of Staff Committee; Gen. J.J. Singh, Army Staff chief; and Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani, Air Staff vice chief of staff. He also visited Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whom he met with two days earlier in Singapore during a bilateral session that included Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Indian national security adviser M.K. Narayan.
Pace stopped today at the Taj Mahal, then paid a visit to the Army Training Command at Shimla, India's counterpart to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Later in the day, Pace told members of the United Service Institution of India he's had a productive visit learning what he can do to help the two countries strengthen their relationship so they're better prepared for the challenges ahead.
Terrorism is key among those challenges. "I believe we are going to be working against terrorists for the next 20 to 30 years," Pace said. While the level of engagement likely won't remain at the current pitch the United States has committed to in Iraq and Afghanistan, "certainly together, we are going to have to combat terrorism," he told the group.
The Asia Security Conference, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, affirmed growing international recognition of the terrorist threat, the chairman said. Discussions no longer got bogged down with the question of whether terrorism is a threat, he said.
"There was no discussion about that at all this time," Pace told the group. "The discussion was really about how to confront it, not whether or not it existed."
Growing international recognition of the threat reinforces the need for international cooperation to overcome it, the chairman said.
Pace explained the U.S. strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and successes as well as disappointments in the effect it's having. Despite progress on both the political front and aggressive efforts to build Iraq's security forces, Pace told the group it's too soon for U.S. and coalition forces to return home. Leaving too soon, he said, will empower terrorists and leave the region less stable and people of free nations less safe.
Pace said there's no question that the United States will see current missions through to a successful end. "The United States is committed in Iraq and committed in Afghanistan to seeing this through," he said.
Responding to a question from the audience, Pace said Iraq's struggle against terrorism ultimately "will be won or lost by the Iraqi government."
But Iraq is likely to continue needing international help for the foreseeable future to achieve its potential, he said. "Collectively, we have to find some way to help them," he said.
Pace said he believes Iraq will require international assistance "for decades to come," even after its security forces take charge of Iraq's security and coalition forces leave or dramatically draw down.
That will be the critical period for Iraq as its new leaders build schools, roads, hospitals and an employment base and learn how to establish strong governance. These are the entities that "change people's minds about the future" and give them a sense of hope, Pace said.
The chairman hinted that India could be an important contributor to Iraq's strong new democracy, if its government chose to participate.
"You all have enormous capacity right here and historical ties with Iraq that, were you to choose to either offer or to respond to a request from them to help train their folks here or help train their folks there, you could have an enormous influence as well," he said.