Reported on: April 26, 2012 23:08 PM
Reported in: National
Dhaka, Apr 26 (UNB)-US Assistant Secretary of Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro who led the American delegation to Bangladesh-US Security Dialogue here on April 19 said Bangladesh is a key player in maintaining security in the Bay of Bengal.
“Indeed, over the past decade, the bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Government of Bangladesh has become one of the most robust in South Asia,” he said at Carnegie Endowment Roundtable in Washington on Tuesday.
Shapiro who came to Dhaka for the first time said, “I believe that our relationship (with Bangladesh) is very strong.”
He said Bangladesh is an active partner in regional counterterrorism efforts and “we're working to enhance their ability to respond to natural disasters.”
The US State Department official said, “Our cooperation with Bangladesh is a prime example of how US security assistance can play a critically important role in our diplomatic engagement.”
Shapiro said, “My Bureau plays an integral role in this relationship through our security assistance programs, our global peacekeeping programs, and our authority over the allocation of excess defense articles.”
He said since first receiving Foreign Military Financing or FMF in 2005, Bangladesh has focused on building patrol boat fleets for the Coast Guard—a project that supports maritime security and disaster relief and strengthens the government’s presence in isolated areas.
Shapiro said Bangladesh is also working through a military modernization plan, which includes looking to partners for affordable defense systems, especially to supply its Special Operations Forces and disaster relief equipment.
“This modernisation efforts provides an opportunity for us to expand our security cooperation, especially through our Excess Defense Articles programme, which makes US equipment that is surplus to our requirements available to our partners.”
Additionally, he said the USA provides assistance to support Bangladesh’s peacekeeping efforts.
Shapiro said Bangladesh is the largest troops contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. Today Bangladesh has over 10,000 troops deployed supporting nine U.N. operations.
He said his Bureau oversees the Global Peace Operations Initiative, which has supported military peacekeeping training and assisted with improvements and refurbishment of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operations Training.
“Our security assistance to Bangladesh also demonstrates the tremendous impact these programs can have in supporting states trying to build their security capacity,” Shapiro said, adding in an interconnected world, terrorists, pirates, traffickers, and other transnational actors can exploit the weakness of states to cause mayhem and instability.
He said US assistance is helping states like Bangladesh better control their borders and their coastlines. “Our assistance is helping Bangladesh better deal with natural disasters and transnational threats.”
Shapiro said “through our training initiatives and exchanges we are helping professionalize national military forces to ensure they can better protect their public, while respecting human rights.”
“In short, our security assistance is playing a critical important role for the people of Bangladesh and for the national security of the United States,” he added.