Dempsey Pleased About U.S.-Pakistani Leaders Meeting
By Jim Garamone
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, March 28, 2012 - Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today he is pleased that U.S. and Pakistani military leaders have met to discuss mutual concerns.
Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, met with Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Islamabad.
It was the highest level-military meeting between the United States and Pakistan since a Nov. 26, 2011, incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border. Following the incident, Pakistan closed the ground supply lines that ran from Karachi up into Afghanistan, forcing coalition forces to rely on a northern supply route.
Dempsey told reporters traveling with him from Colombia to Brazil that he has spoken with Kayani at least five times since the border incident. The Pakistanis, he said, want to reset the military-to-military relationship with the United States. "We want to rebuild the trust and confidence between our two militaries," the general said.
This includes working the border issues with the Pakistanis and reopening the ground supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan, Dempsey said. He added that he believes the two militaries can discuss what must be done in Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas to improve the situation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Groups have taken root in the tribal areas that pose a threat to the national government and to neighboring Afghanistan, the chairman explained. Pakistan has sent troops into the region to take on these groups and to establish the government's control of its sovereign territory.
Many officials believe the Pakistani military is doing about as much as it can. Pakistani leaders regard India as a threat, and most of their armed forces are facing India in the east. Until more troops are made available, the situation in the tribal areas probably will remain as it is, and official said, with many areas under government control and others like the Wild West.
U.S. defense officials have been quick to point out that Pakistan has lost thousands of service members and thousands of citizens to the scourge of terrorism. "No one doubts the sacrifice or will of the Pakistanis -- just the means they have," one official said.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey