Washington: Arguing that the Persian Gulf region remains critical to the American interest, a top Pentagon Commander has said the US commitment to security in the oil rich region remains firm.
"I hope we do achieve energy independence. But I can assure you that at least from a military perspective that the continued development of military capabilities... Partnerships and trust that we build by working together..., you will find that the future will be a period of greater commitment," General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday while addressing an audience.
Countries bordering the Persian Gulf include Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Dempsey noted he lived and worked in Iraq and Saudi Arabia for many years. "I came here today with a message of assurance -- a little peace of mind in the context of uncertainty," the general told the audience.
"Now if you measure our commitment in terms of numbers of boots on the ground and numbers of aircraft and number of aircraft carriers, there`ll always be this debate about inclining or declining commitment.
"But that`s not what the commitment`s all about, really, in my view. I went to the Gulf in `91, spent almost the next 20 years there on and off and didn`t do it for oil," he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an eminent Washington-based think tank.
The US presence in the Gulf since 1991 was originally because of Saddam Hussein`s aggression, Dempsey said.
"We have given the Iraqi people an incredible opportunity. Today we have a partner, not an adversary. And it remains to be seen still about how strong a partner they are willing and can become, but we have a partner," he said.
"I think that it was inevitable that at some point our presence in Iraq would reduce, as they were asking for and given the opportunity to take control of their own destinies, and you`re going to see that similarly play out in Afghanistan over the next few years," he said.
"But that`s separate and distinct from our commitment to engage with, partner with, collaborate with our important partners in the region, and again, not measured in terms of air wings or carrier battle groups but rather in terms of the kind of collaborations we actually have with the United Arab Emirates, where you are seeking to build your own capabilities, where we are eager to help you do that, where we do things like exercises," Dempsey said.