By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
March 6, 2008 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continued U.S. engagement with Pakistan, a crucial ally in the war on terror, during March 4 meetings here with military leaders and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said he and the military leaders talked about U.S. training support to Pakistan.
Mullen arrived in Pakistan from Iraq on March 3 and immediately went to a dinner hosted by Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. The next morning, he held further discussions with Kayani and the chief of the Joint Staff Gen. Tariq Majid before meeting with Musharraf.
The chairman said the meeting was cordial, and that he and Musharraf discussed the recent Pakistani elections. Musharraf told the admiral that he is looking forward to the formation of a government and to moving ahead in the democratic process.
The meetings with Kayani focused on training, the chairman said. "We talked about training support, particularly training his trainers, without discussing specifics," he said. "We also spoke about the various support activities. What I wanted to do was reassure him of my support."
Mullen also used the opportunity to express his condolences for the loss of the Pakistani army's surgeon general, who was killed in a suicide bombing two weeks ago, "but the visit was mostly to engage (Kayani) and to deepen the relationship," he said.
Counterinsurgency training is key for the Pakistani army and the frontier corps, an indigenous, locally recruited paramilitary organization under the Ministry of the Interior that provides security in the federally administered tribal areas that include Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda have used the porous border to take haven in the tribal areas as they plan strikes in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military and frontier corps have lost about a thousand personnel in fighting along the border with Afghanistan, a U.S. military official said. Pakistani officials said more than 130,000 military personnel are posted along the border with Afghanistan.
Mullen said he did not present any new training plans to Kayani.
"We focused more than anything else in training his trainers – his regular army and his frontier corps," the admiral said. "There's a financial piece of this as well – an equipment piece – but we didn't go into specifics on that."
The two men also reviewed Pakistani challenges. They discussed helicopter sustainment and maintenance and supply issues. "It was a very broad discussion, without specifics," Mullen said.