First US, Sri Lanka naval exercise in October
ECONOMYNEXT – The United States Navy will hold its first exercise with Sri Lanka’s navy in October this year as the two countries deepen their military relationship, a senior visiting American diplomat said.
The United States is and remains an Indo-Pacific power, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G. Wells said.
“For more than seven decades, we have embraced the responsibilities this distinction requires across this vast expanse, from the shores of East Africa to the western coast of the Americas,” she told the Indo-Pacific Regional Architecture Indian Ocean Conference 2017, in Colombo. “This will not change in the decades to come.”
Wells said that expanding naval cooperation is another priority for the United States, noting that the US-India-Japan MALABAR Naval exercise in July was its largest and most complex to-date, involving over 10,000 personnel.
“We are also expanding our navy-to-navy relationship with Sri Lanka, with our first-ever naval exercise set for October,” she said. “With Bangladesh, we value our continued engagement through regular exercises like the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training series.”
Wells said that countries must be able to effectively counter security threats in the Indian Ocean, as well as respond to humanitarian and environmental disasters. “Through joint capacity building and exercises, we can share the security burden in this increasingly complex region.”
While the Indian Ocean region offers unprecedented opportunity, it is also confronting a myriad of security challenges, including terrorism, transnational crime, trafficking-in-persons and illicit drugs, Wells said.
To combat these challenges, the United States has sought to improve intelligence sharing among regional partners and capacity building in areas like community policing, counter-narcotics, aviation security and forensics analysis.
“There is also a critical need to expand engagement on maritime domain awareness. In the increasingly crowded maritime environment, the sharing of reliable information is the foundation for greater cooperation,” she said.
(COLOMBO, Sept 01, 2017)
Kithmina Hewage- Institute of Policy Studies