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Remarks By Amb. Anne Patterson Before the Pakistan Nat'l Defense University

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  • Remarks By Amb. Anne Patterson Before the Pakistan Nat'l Defense University

    "Ambassador Anne W. Patterson
    Remarks to Participants in the National Defense Course,
    National Defense University
    Islamabad, Pakistan
    February 13, 2010

    Ladies and Gentlemen, participants in the National Defense Course, Rear Admiral Khan Hasham Bin Saddique, thank you for your warm welcome today and for inviting me to speak about U.S. Policy Objectives in South Asia. It is an honor to speak to this distinguished audience.

    I last spoke here at the National Defense Course in November, 2008 - during the last months of the Bush Administration and just days after our President-elect announced that "change has come to America." At that time I told your colleagues that the central tenet of America's foreign policy toward South Asia is to support a stable, prosperous and democratic region that is free from militant extremism. Although many things have changed in the past 15 months, this is a policy that has not changed. In fact, what we have seen in the United States has been a dramatic underscoring of that vision as the Obama Administration came to power and set the tone and direction for our engagement in this region, and particularly with Pakistan.

    In my remarks this morning, I'll try to outline the American view of current security matters in this region -- including an assessment of how the convergence of American and Pakistani views and interests that has occurred over the past year will have important consequences for our partnership in the years ahead. Afterward, I'll be glad to take your questions.

    New Directions from the New Administration

    Since I last spoke to you here, the Obama Administration arrived in Washington and began to put its imprint on U.S. foreign policy. Elections are clarifying events, and President Obama clearly recognized that after years of war, the American people wanted to know where our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were taking us. In characteristic American style, our government's internal policy debates were accompanied by vigorous public debate.

    Like every other country, the United States establishes its foreign policy goals on the basis of its own national interests. One of our top objectives is to keep the United States and our friends safe from attack.

    Among other things, this means encouraging international cooperation toward open societies and free economies, as well as supporting democratic institutions and processes.

    The President's Cairo speech last summer added another important element of our foreign policy for your consideration - the President began to set new foreign policy directions with a serious effort to reset America's relations with the broader Muslim world based on shared interests and values. His speech was widely applauded as an important first step in building trust and cooperation between the United States and our friends and partners across the globe.

    President Obama is genuinely interested in Pakistan and its welfare. The President believes the U.S. did not do enough in recent years to help Pakistan fight extremism and terrorism, build its economy and develop a democratic society. The actions he has taken during the first year of his Presidency reflect his belief that the United States should support Pakistan in all of these areas.

    The Consensus of 2009

    In his December 1 policy speech on the way forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Obama said:

    "In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust... [T]he Pakistani people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed."

    I personally participated in many meetings chaired by President Obama in which he has repeatedly spoken of his concern for Pakistan's security and economic development. The President's views are accurately reflected in the broad support for Pakistan throughout his Administration and in the Congress.

    The principles that President Obama has outlined for our way forward are clear: the U.S. will continue to attack, disrupt and ultimately defeat al-Qaeda and its extremist allies; and the U.S. will support Pakistan in its efforts to build a secure, stable, successful state at peace with its neighbors, democratic and economically prosperous.

    For the United States, a major foreign policy initiative needs support from Congress - and that support is usually accompanied by assistance funds for the State Department, USAID, the Defense Department or other U.S. government agencies.

    Working closely with senior members of the Congress, President Obama endorsed a large assistance package to help Pakistan strengthen its energy, education, health, and agricultural sectors. The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill, authorizes $1.5 billion per year for five years - $7.5 billion total - for civilian assistance to Pakistan, beyond the over $1 billion per year provided for military assistance in separate legislation and authorizations.

    Senator John Kerry has taken a very strong interest in Pakistan's welfare and has been a regular visitor here - we expect him again next week -- because in his congressional oversight role, the Senator wants to see that the initiative bearing his name will result in tangible progress for the Pakistani people.

    Making this commitment to Pakistan while the U.S. is still recovering from the effects of the global recession reflects the strength of our vision. Yet we have made this commitment, because we see the success of Pakistan, its economy, its civil society and its democratic institutions as important for ourselves, for this region and for the world.

    In 2009, new thinking crystallized among Pakistan's political and military leadership. The Taliban takeover of Swat was a wakeup call for us all. Their edicts restricting personal freedoms, imposing summary justice and banning girl's education - made it very clear to people here and around the world what kind of country the Taliban believe Pakistan should become.

    Pakistan's successful military campaign to reestablish the writ of government in Swat and, later in South Waziristan enjoyed enormous popular support throughout the country. The Taliban have been no match for your troops, but they have nevertheless managed to kill many soldiers. Moreover, they have sent suicide bombers to major cities to kill and maim with a clear goal in mind - to promote fear and insecurity among the people of Pakistan. They have succeeded only in strengthening the will of your military and civilian leadership.

    In public remarks to a group of parliamentarians on Tuesday, the Prime Minister sent a message that the government will no longer tolerate challenges to its authority by terrorists. The Taliban were also clear in their reply: on Wednesday they ambushed a rescue team rushing to the assistance of a Khyber Agency helicopter crash and they killed 18 others in a suicide attack. The Prime Minister was right - we have much work to do this year.

    The Days Ahead

    The U.S. and Pakistan enjoy closer military to military cooperation today than we have had in many years. This has been the result of a consultative process that has brought so many of our military and civilian leaders here over the past few months - National Security Adviser Jim Jones was here this week and Admiral Mike Mullen, our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was here last month. Our leading combatant commanders, General David Petraeus and General Stanley McChrystal have been regular visitors here too, as have a number of senior Administration officials and Members of Congress.

    I attend many of the meetings conducted by our senior military and political leaders with your government and with General Kayani and want to assure you that we have had genuine and thoughtful exchanges of ideas and close consultations on U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

    I also want to assure you that, as part of our shared vision of the next steps in the campaign against extremism and militancy, we are coordinating our activities and movements as we have never done before. Our military leadership is in constant contact with 11th Corps and what we call Regional Command East in Afghanistan to work together to impede cross-border attacks in Bajaur. Cooperation with 12th Corps in Quetta has grown sharply as the Afghan, U.S. and ISAF forces prepare to surge in Helmand. This not only involves intelligence exchanges but also regular joint planning efforts.

    Our troops are not only working together but also training together. The three U.S. soldiers killed and two injured last week in Lower Dir were part of a small group of soldiers that have been training and working with the Frontier Corps over the past year and half. We are also expanding our training in the U.S. for Pakistani officers through our regular international military training and education programs.

    The upcoming period will be eventful as the U.S. moves to carry forward President Obama's orders. As you know, the U.S. is in the process of a troop surge in Afghanistan that will result in many more American soldiers joining the battle in the months ahead. The Afghan, U.S. and ISAF forces have publicly announced their determination to end the Taliban occupation of Marjah in Helmand province - which has one of the largest concentrations of Taliban fighters -- and to restore Afghan government rule there. Over 15,000 troops are being deployed into this area. This battle will be an important new step in the campaign to end the war in Afghanistan.

    The Afghan government and the allied military forces have provided sufficient warning that civilians and those Taliban who do not wish to fight in Marjah have an opportunity to begin the process of reintegration into normal life. President Karzai has promised fighters who wish to lay down their arms and that they can benefit from Afghan government incentives, such as jobs, a stipend, the ability to go home, and security for their families. We all hope that many people take that opportunity. When the Afghan, U.S. and ISAF soldiers take Helmand, it is their intention to hold that province - and to provide people there with the security they need to rebuild their lives. I know that you join me in hoping that the battle will be brief and the casualties few. But our forces are determined to succeed.

    Let me be clear about our view of a possible political settlement in Afghanistan, which directly affects Pakistan. There has been much confusion about this in the press, and possibly among members of your government. As I just mentioned, the Afghan government, with support from the international community, is developing programs to support reintegration, which will hopefully encourage low-level fighters to put down their arms and leave the battlefield.

    This is far different from a peace process involving the Taliban leadership.

    Our National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, and other U.S. leaders have assured your civilian and military leaders that there will be complete transparency with them on any reconciliation talks that take place in Afghanistan.

    But let me be clear that no serious talks have been conducted so far.

    Your government has indicated a willingness to be helpful in this process, given its familiarity with some of these groups. The Afghan government will be in the lead on any reconciliation process but all involved nations recognize that this process must take into account Pakistan's interests, given the cross-border nature of these insurgents.

    Your military and law enforcement personnel have sacrificed enormously in defense of Pakistan. Many of these attacks, whether at GHQ, the Parade Lane mosque, ISI headquarters, or police pickets, are aimed clearly at the guardians of the state. Your government has made it clear that it has the will and the intent to defend Pakistan's territory and the integrity of this nation. We have promised our support.

    U.S. Military Support to Pakistan

    The following is a sample of the equipment the U.S. has provided to the Pakistan military in the past year:

    Ten (10) newly-acquired MI-17 helicopters and nine (9) overhauled MI-17s;

    * Millions of rounds of ammunition for use in training, combat operations, and for your attack helicopters.
    * 67 155mm artillery guns were delivered last year; we are formally handing over another 48 artillery guns today in Karachi
    * Body armor, helmets, life-saving first aid equipment, and other combat gear to support many thousands of your troops. Hundreds of vehicles to improve the mobility of the Frontier Corps in the FATA.
    * Eight (8) P-3 Coastal Patrol Aircraft; and today in Karachi we are delivering three (3) fast patrol boats.

    In addition we have greatly expanded training and military education opportunities through a major expansion of our International Military Education and Training (IMET) program as well as the deployment of U.S. military trainers to Pakistan to exchange with each other our best military practices. The Pakistan IMET program is the largest in the world and growing. Through IMET, your officers and soldiers have attended the US Army War College, flight simulator training, officer basic and advanced engineering and intelligence courses, and a myriad of other training. With the doubling of the IMET budget, we will be sending twice the number of officers to the United States for long-duration courses, such as the Army War College.

    These training opportunities are a two-way street. Our American officers benefit enormously from their participation in Pakistani military training schools like NDU and Quetta, from the insights and experience of senior Pakistani officers at American schools, and from the day to day experience of Pakistan soldiers who have long experience in counter-insurgency and with whom they interact in the field.

    To take advantage of these synergies, US-Pakistan interaction is expanding across the board. Our bilateral engagement programs have increased by 75%. Rather than focusing on theoretical information exchanges, we are moving to more hands-on training events. Among the recent activities has been a Close Air Support component to the Air Force Falcon Talon exercise followed by a visit from our pilots to fly along with yours to demonstrate and practice close air support techniques. We hope to soon follow this with a night flying mobile training team in a few months. A second on-going engagement event is aerial refueling with US tanker aircraft refueling Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighters.

    The United States and Pakistan Navies have one of the most robust bilateral exercise calendars in the region. But more importantly, the Pakistan Navy recently relinquished command of Combined Task Force - 150 in the Arabian Sea for the third time; the most of any Coalition partner.

    Our Navy SEALS have enjoyed a close training relationship with the Special Services Group - Navy for a number of years now; but this relationship is on the verge of a new era. We are building a new training facility at Gharo Creek and will have an enduring presence to work full-time with your SSG-Navy.

    Our Special Operations Forces are providing specialized training to the Frontier Corps; specifically their snipers, the Special Operations Group Company, and assisting in individual and collective skills training at the Wing level Additionally, as part of the Wing training, each soldier is receiving new equipment, to include bullet proof vests.

    For a number of years now, our Special Operations Officers and Non-Commissioned officers have partnered with your Special Service Group and the 21st Quick Reaction Squadron both to learn from their experiences as well as to impart the lessons they learned in battle in Afghanistan. This relationship has been extremely rewarding for both parties. As part of this unique partnering, new training facilities are being provided at each of the SSG cantonments. These facilities include new ranges, shoot houses, mock villages and rappel towers.

    There is much more in the pipeline, but I thought that perhaps you should know some of these details - they are the tangible result of our policy of support for Pakistan's military.

    Preparations are also underway for the arrival of four new F-16 aircraft by the middle of this year, to be followed by 14 more in the months ahead. These were purchased with Pakistan's own funds, but we provided 14 F-16s in 2008. At the same time, the United States is providing funds to upgrade Pakistan's existing F-16 aircraft. As part of our transfer agreement, a small number of Americans will be working at Shahbaz air base alongside their Pakistani counterparts, advising on the security and other technical procedures associated with these very sophisticated, advanced fighters.

    Vice Admiral Michael LeFever, who is here with me today, led the American effort to assist your government in the 2005 earthquake relief for which he was awarded the Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam (Crescent of the Great Leader) and Sitara-i-Eisaar (Star of Sacrifice) awards. He today is our top military officer in Pakistan and he leads the U.S. military's efforts to provide the equipment and training requested by your military. I hope that some of you will take time out to greet him afterward, as I believe you will find him - and his colleague Col. Joe Abbott, who is also here -- strong partners and friends for Pakistan."
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