Friday, December 21, 2012

US to offer humanitarian training to Burmese military

Friday, 21 December 2012 10:46 THE BANGKOK POST

The United States is poised to take “nascent steps” to open up military ties with Burma as a way of bolstering the country’s political reforms, according to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoting an anonymous senior US Defense official.

US soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team train in Germany in 2007 ahead of a deployment to Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army Africa / Flickr)

The Pentagon has reportedly said that the cooperation would likely take the form of “non-lethal” training for Burmese officers focusing on humanitarian assistance, military medicine and defense “reform”.

“We're looking at nascent steps on the US-Burmese military relationship,” the official is quoted as saying. “We generally support the proposition that carefully calibrated, appropriately targeted and scoped military-to-military contact is effective in advancing overall reform efforts in Burma.”

The official said that such “appropriately calibrated steps” will be taken in the near future, AFP reported.

The announcement comes as the US seeks ever more ways to nurture a new relationship with Burma following its lifting of most economic sanctions on the country earlier this year.

In October, the US offered the Burmese military an opportunity to participate as an observer in its joint exercises in Thailand next year.

In November, Barack Obama became the first ever US President to pay an official visit to Burma.

This article first appeared in The Bangkok Post on December 20, 2012.
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