Pentagon Rules Out Military Ties with Burma

U.S. Marines assigned to Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team conduct a live fire exercise during a training exercise in this handout photo taken at Camp Rodriguez in South Korea in March 2012. (PHOTO: Reuters)

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon on Monday categorically ruled out resumption of a defense relationship with Burma until the US’s concerns on human rights issues with the Burmese military are addressed.

The Pentagon’s reiteration of its policy on military-to-military engagement with the Burmese armed forces came as a few top US Defense Department officials travelled to Burma to participate in the first ever US-Burma Human Rights Dialogue.

“This first Human Rights Dialogue in Burma reflects the Administration’s whole-of-government approach to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law,” the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told The Irrawaddy.

The delegation, led by the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael Posner, includes senior representatives from the White House National Security Staff, the Office of the Vice President, the Department of Homeland Security, the US Agency for International Development, and the Department of Defense, she said.

“The Human Rights dialogue will cover a range of human rights-related issues, including the rule of law; protection of civilian populations in conflict areas; business, labor, and economic development; freedom of expression; religious freedom; criminal justice and political prisoners; and human rights and the military,” Nuland said.

Prominent among those attending the dialogue from the Department of Defense include Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Vikram Singh; and Lt. Gen Francis Wiercinski, the head of the US Army’s Pacific Command. Defense Department officials insisted that the presence of US military officials is in no way should be considered as revival of defense relationship between the two countries. They are attending the human rights dialogue at the invitation of the State Department, Pentagon officials said.

“The Defense Department is participating in the US-Burma Human Rights Dialogue to discuss the our support for human rights and respect for civilian authority. The official US Government policy regarding defense activities with Burma remains one of disengagement, except in limited humanitarian and diplomatic instances,” Maj Cathy Wilkinson, the Defense Department Press Officer for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (APSA) told The Irrawaddy.

“We appreciate the steps the government of Burma has taken to institute democratic reforms, reach out to ethnic groups to resolve longstanding ethnic conflicts, and address human rights concerns,” she said, adding that much work is left to be done in these areas, but the United States is interested in supporting Burma in these efforts.

“A resumption of bilateral defense ties can only occur with additional progress and we hope that the Burmese military will continue to support the civilian government, promote and accept its reforms, and improve its human rights record,” Wilkinson said.

“Respect for human rights, civilian oversight over the military, and transparency are hallmarks of all modern, professional militaries and the key to their legitimacy with their own people. The United States Defense Department take its responsibilities in these areas very seriously,” she said in response to a question.

4 Responses to Pentagon Rules Out Military Ties with Burma

  1. US military – Human Rights    And Bamar Sit-tut and Human Rights  This is non-stop joke!

    Brothers in HELL!How rotten can the world get! These bullying Bamar Military would not sleep to get their paws on all sorts of killing things as Buddhists should want.And the Americans wants to get another proxy to screw the Chinese! And a closer land base or listening station.American military on the soil and the Burmese reputation in the Muslim countries, this is open invitation to Al Qaeda and individual jihadist in this Salafists’ world.Enjoy those sunglasses before you…….

  2. Resumption of long defunct direct contacts of defense services official is a welcome news.If we want the best military hardware and know how.go to the best sources.After many years of neglect,we must prepare our young defense services men and women to be well trained and equipped for the 21st Century.Better to take the opportunity presented to us.

  3. รักเธอ.. ด.

    “Respect for human rights, civilian oversight over the military, and
    transparency are hallmarks of all modern, professional militaries and
    the key to their legitimacy with their own people. The United States
    Defense Department take its responsibilities in these areas very
    seriously,” she said in response to a question.
    Hey, THAT WON’T HAPPEN in BURMA today lady!
    As long as Than Shwe is ALIVE and KICKING ASS in Naypyidaw via his OFFICE staffed by a couple of major generals and Thein Sein, his parliament and others have to report daily to Than Shwe’s office “TRANSPARENCY and HALLMARKS of modern professional militaries and key to legitimacy” as you say WOULD NOT RULE the DAY in Than Shwe run country today.
    And China and Russia as well are STANDING TALL for the ‘dictator in hiding’ at Naypyidaw until today as well.
    Of course the North Koreans as well are STILL IN THE PICTURE lest Obama forgets.
    And LIFTING SANCTIONS and INVESTING in Burma at this time and juncture would be ILL ADVISED amounting to UTTER FOLLY on the part of US led West as well I say.

    George Than Setkyar Heine

  4. Having good relationship will result economics, social, politics and military. Nothing wrong with that. Instead of having relationship with North Korea and Communist China, why not with USA, Australia, Canada and Europe? No government is a perfect government but USA and the Europe are different from N Korea and China. As human beings, some US soldiers committed mistakes, but they have been paying for it. They are not tolerated. Many American soldiers are behind bars because they committed crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. This kind of government is what we need in Burma. No one must be above the law including the President and a Private(Ordinary Soldier).

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