Oops! Was he supposed to say that?

[Things slip–sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose, sometimes as a trial balloon (“Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.”)  But when these relations are more deeply exposed, it’s a good time to watch whether the embrace continues, unbroken, and who tries to cover their face.  Here, the statement of the Pentagon commander is reported; the following stories report the denials by India and Nepal. — Frontlines ed.]

Pentagon commander says US special forces in India

02 March 12, 2012

US and Indian air force paratrooper at the India-US joint air exercise in Agra on 19 October 2009

US special forces are present in five South Asian countries, including India, a top Pentagon commander has revealed.

US Pacific Commander Admiral Robert Willard said the teams were deployed to help India with their counter-terrorism co-operation.

The US and India were working together to contain Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, he said.

The US embassy in Delhi clarified that the troops were not stationed in India.

A spokesman told the BBC that there were “no special forces stationed in India”, as media reports had suggested.

The embassy and India’s ministry of defence said a unit from the US 25th infantry division was in India to hold an exercise with Indian forces.

‘Working closely’

Adm Willard said US teams were also present in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

“We have currently special forces assist teams – Pacific assist teams is the term – laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, as well as India,” Adm Willard told a Congressional hearing.

“We are working very closely with India with regard to their counter-terrorism capabilities and in particular on the maritime domain but also government to government, not necessarily department of defence but other agencies assisting them in terms of their internal counter-terror and counterinsurgency challenges.”

Adm Willard said Lashkar-e-Taiba was a “very dangerous organisation… so it is a very important threat, and we’re working very closely with the nations in the region to help contain it”.

He said the group was “responsible for many attacks in India, including the horrific attacks into Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Taiba is headquartered in Pakistan, affiliated with al-Qaeda… and contributes to terrorist operations in Afghanistan and aspires to operate against Asia, Europe and North America,” he said.

In the past months, the US has trained Indian counter-terrorist specialists.

The two countries have also been working to counter piracy, conduct disaster response planning and training and holding joint armed forces exercises.

In July last year, Robert Blake, US assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, said counter-terrorism co-operation with India was “a very high priority” for the US.

He said Washington was working with Delhi to ensure that “they have the best systems in place possible to prevent future attacks such as the one in Mumbai”.

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Pentagon says US special forces in India; Delhi denies

Sify.com, Saturday, March 03, 2012

Source :  IANS

Washington: The US special forces are based in India and four other South Asian countries, a Pentagon commander has said. But India promptly denied it, saying Washington has neither sought nor has India approved stationing of US Special Forces personnel in the country.

The US and India are working together to contain Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar–Taiba, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attack.

US has forces in five South Asian nations including India, US Pacific Commander Admiral Robert Willard told a Congressional hearing on Thursday.

The teams were deployed to help India in counter-terrorism, in particular in the maritime domain, Willard said.

“We have currently special forces assist teams – Pacific assist teams is the term – laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives as well as India,” Willard said.

“We are working very closely with India with regard to their counter-terrorism capabilities and in particular on the maritime domain but also government to government, not necessarily department of defence but other agencies assisting them in terms of their internal counter-terror and counterinsurgency challenges.”

The Indian government challenged the statement.

“The US Government has neither sought nor has the Government of India approved stationing of US Special Forces personnel in any capacity in India,” Syed Akbaruddin, the external affairs ministry spokesperson, said.

“The two countries occasionally conduct short duration Special Forces exercises in India and the US in the context of their counter-terrorism cooperation and capacity building,” he added.

The defence ministry said Willard’s claim that US special teams were based in India was “factually incorrect”.

“The report is factually incorrect in so far as the reference to India is concerned,” a defence ministry spokesperson said in New Delhi. “US special forces teams have never been stationed in India in the past, nor are such teams stationed in the country presently,” he said.

Admiral Willard said Lashkar-e-Taiba was a “very dangerous organisation… so it is a very important threat, and we’re working very closely with the nations in the region to help contain it”.

The group was “responsible for many attacks in India, including the horrific attacks into Mumbai” of November 2008 that left 166 Indians and foreigners dead.

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US special forces stationed in Nepal

2012-03-02
KATHMANDU: A top Pentagon Commander has said that the United States has stationed its Special Forces team of the US Pacific Command in Nepal to contain violent extremist forces.

During a Congressional hearing yesterday, Admiral Robert F Willard, the US Pacific Command Commander, said, “We have currently special forces assist teams — Pacific Assist Teams is the term — laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India as part of counter-terrorism cooperation with these nations.” The commander, however, stopped short of disclosing details of the Nepal-based US forces.

According to reports, Willard was responding to a question from Congressman Joe Wilson as to what efforts were being made to counter threat from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. Terry White, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Kathmandu, however, denied there was a team of US Special Forces stationed in Nepal. “But, members of the US Special Forces occasionally visit Nepal to assist in training, capacity building and humanitarian activities of the national army,” White told this daily.

But the government’s intelligence and security agencies said they had no idea about US Special Forces being laid down in Nepal.

Nepali Army Spokesperson Brig Gen Ramindra Chhetri said both the Nepali and US militaries were involved in joint training exercises and other exchange programmes. According to Chhetri, NA shares its skills on high altitude rescue with the US troops at NA’s Mountain Warfare Training School in Mustang as part of military cooperation between Nepal and the US. “Besides that we don’t have any information on Pacific Assist Teams’ presence in Nepal,” he added.

However, Admiral Willard said USPACOM engages throughout South Asia assisting the armies of the countries in the region to counter and contain Violent Extremist Organisations such as LeT, cooperating in maritime security activities, conducting disaster response planning and training and exercising extensively.

“South Asia is home to a confluence of challenges, including nuclear armed rivals India and Pakistan, trans-national VEOs such as LeT, piracy, trafficking in narcotics and persons, disputed borders and insurgent movements that have plagued India, Nepal and Sri Lanka,” said Willard.

One thought on “Oops! Was he supposed to say that?

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