Petraeus Emphasizes Shared Goals at Defense Chiefs Conference
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 31, 2009 – A meeting of chiefs of defense here re-emphasizes the shared commitments of Central Asia and the United States to security and stability in the region, the commander of U.S. Central Command said here today.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus told the defense chiefs from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan that the meeting will help all involved better address their common interests.
Combating extremism and the spread of extremism from Afghanistan and Pakistan is at the top of the list of priorities, the general said. “[This means] that all of us have to help our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
Further, he said, the chiefs all have a shared interest in countering the illegal narcotics industry. Opium and heroin production is the main money-maker in many parts of Afghanistan, and drug lords have caused a tremendous problem throughout Central Asia.
All concerned also need secure borders, and they also must protect their countries’ infrastructure and respond to humanitarian crises, Petraeus said.
“Our effort to deepen our understanding of the challenges that each of us face will improve our ability to think and to address these challenges together,” the general said.
Petraeus addressed the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy that President Barack Obama announced last week. The regional approach to the problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan has enormous bearing on countering extremism, he said.
“All of us are concerned about the potential outflow of extremism from Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Petraeus said. The nations of the region understand the problem in ways the United States doesn’t, Petraeus said, so the dialogue among the countries is important to exchange strategies. “We all have to work together to achieve better control of the border areas,” he said.
Counter-proliferation issues in the region cannot be ignored, Petraeus said. While Iran’s nuclear ambitions obviously are the greatest challenge, he said, Pakistan is a nuclear power that has proliferated weapons technology in the past...
Interesting article from a soldier we respect. Go read the rest here.
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