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* U.S. looks forward to expand military to military relations with Sri Lanka
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 08:13 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Oct 12, Colombo: The United States looks forward to expand military to military relations with Sri Lanka to address multilateral challenges, a top U.S. Navy official said.

Speaking at the Galle Dialogue 2017 in Colombo U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said the multilateral operations, exercises, and professional dialogues such as the forum organized by Sri Lanka Navy, help build habits of cooperation, foster understanding and interoperability between participant forces, and develop allied and partner nation capacity.

"I look forward to the expansion of our military to military relations through activities like CARAT, both from an interoperability perspective and from a perspective of building trust and cooperation to address multilateral challenges," Admiral Swift said Referring to the just concluded CARAT 2017 in Trincomalee exercise where U.S. Pacific Fleet forces joined the Sri Lanka Navy.

The first ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise - 2017 conducted in collaboration with United States maritime forcers and Sri Lanka Navy Marines concluded in Trincomalee on Friday (06 October 2017). Sri Lanka was the latest CARAT partner nation, demonstrating a shared commitment to maritime security in the Indian Ocean.

Admiral Swift underscored that engagement and building trust remains a critical part of maintaining the inclusive security network that sustains the rules-based order and helps protect freedom of the seas for the benefit of all nations.

"We build trust between our forces, we improve our ability to provide security on a wider scale. Piracy and armed robbery at sea plagued the Western Indian Ocean for an extended period, disrupting the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia and threatening the use of critical sea lanes. In 2012 alone, the estimated costs to governments and the shipping industry caused by piracy were nearly $7 billion. It took a collective response by maritime nations and their navies, a U.N. resolution, and adjustments to best practices and policies in the shipping industry to reduce this threat to more manageable levels."

He pointed out that when Sri Lanka experienced severe flooding this past May, several nations sent naval forces and provided assistance to aid in disaster response and recovery.

"It is what responsible navies do, and I commend my fellow naval leaders for their leadership in their decision to provide assistance," he said.

The top U.S. Navy official pointed out that just as nations and their maritime forces have the ability to build trust, their actions, like applying national laws in international space, erodes any trust that can be gained by multi-lateral cooperation.

The Admiral expressed concern that with these realities creeping into the Indian Ocean, maintaining the Indian Ocean as a sea of tranquility seems increasingly problematic.

"My concern grows regarding the vectors of instability and unhealthy competition that I see developing along its shores. My sincere hope is that the inclusive conditions here will not succumb to more self-serving inclinations, but will instead export that cooperative spirit that resides in this basin for the benefit of all," he said.

"I remain convinced that the promotion of the rules-based order is the best possible way forward for all nations to rise peacefully, confidently, securely, and economically."

Admiral Swift said as the Pacific Fleet Commander he looks forward to continuing to work closely with likeminded nations, focusing on ensuring the benefits provided by free and open access to the maritime domain are enjoyed by all nations, regardless of size, strength or wealth.

The annual International Maritime Conference 'Galle Dialogue 2017' organized by the Sri Lanka Navy under the patronage of the Ministry of Defense, was held in capital Colombo on October 9-10.


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