US Looks to Military Engagement With Burma

By Lalit K Jha, Reform 20 December 2012

WASHINGTON—As bilateral ties get back on track, the United States is looking to take “nascent steps” to build up its military relationship with Burma, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

The Pentagon is considering closer military engagement through non-lethal training of Burmese officers, a military education exchange, humanitarian assistance, military medicine and defense reform, a senior defense department official said.

“On Burma, we’re at a phase where we’re looking at nascent steps on the US-Burmese military-to-military relationship,” the official told reporters. “We generally support the proposition that carefully calibrated and appropriately targeted and scoped military-to-military contact is effective in advancing overall reform efforts in Burma.”

The senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, referred to the recent improvement in bilateral ties between the two countries. Early this year, the US government sent two of its defense officials to Burma as part of a delegation led by the deputy secretary of state, William Burns.

The objective was to “really start this dialogue and gain a greater understanding of what needs to be done, what should be done, where we should sit on this conversation,” the official said. “So, I think the bottom line is we’re interested, we’re looking at ways to move forward and I think you’ll see some appropriately calibrated steps in the near future.”