Sunday, March 04, 2012

Talks Reaffirm Growing U.S.-India Partnership

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – Recent bilateral security talks between the United States and India reaffirmed the importance of the partnership between the two nations and the growing U.S. interest in advancing it, as reflected in the new defense strategic guidance, a senior official said today.

Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James N. Miller joined Indian Defense Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma in co-chairing the 12th annual U.S.-India Defense Policy Group dialogue in New Delhi Feb. 21 and 22.

The trip, Miller’s first since assuming his post, demonstrates the United States’ commitment to its relationship with India, Robert Scher, deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, said during a media roundtable.

Scher noted that India is the only country the new strategy guidance specifically identifies for increased engagement, reflecting the priority both President Barack Obama and the Defense Department place on the partnership.

The annual Defense Policy Group meetings aim to advance the two countries’ strategic defense relationship, enabling them to set priorities, take stock of progress and work through hurdles that stand in the way, Scher said.

The agenda focused on four basic areas: defense procurement and production, technical cooperation, military-to-military cooperation and technical security, he explained.

Miller and Sharma agreed to continue concentrating on maritime security cooperation, defense trade and developing new, cooperative research and development projects for the upcoming year, Scher said.

They also reiterated the importance of maintaining a “robust dialogue on technical security,” he said, and for the first time this year, exchanged best practices involving strategy developments and capabilities-based planning.

Both leaders expressed an interest in increasing personal interactions at all levels in their defense and military establishments through continued dialogue, exercises, personal exchanges and training associated with defense sales, Scher said.

While in India, Miller visited India’s national defense college, addressing students there and sharing with them the United States’ interest in advancing its partnership with India.

“The key theme was the need to build people-to-people ties,” Scher said. Miller recognizes, he said, that “it is really the next generation of U.S. and Indian defense leaders and officers who will determine whether we will succeed in realizing the full potential of the U.S.-Indian relationship.”

The dialogue reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-India defense relationship, Scher told reporters.

“There is genuine, positive sentiment on both sides and a real desire to grow the relationship in a positive direction,” he said. “A strong bilateral relationship is clearly in the U.S. interest and benefits both countries.”

Navy's CPO-365 Efforts Take Root in Hawaii

By Bill Doughty, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

HONOLULU (NNS) -- Twenty-five chiefs teamed with 25 first class petty officers Feb. 28 to clear 3.5 tons of brush from a culturally significant bike path in Hawaii.

The area, near to the International Hula Institute, Halau Hula Olana, had become overgrown after many years, attracting unlawful and unsafe activities, according to Olana Ai, of the hula school.

"It was also a constant eyesore to us and to those who walked or jogged or rode their bikes on the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail," Ai said. "To those who took the bus to work and had to use the trail late at night, it felt unsafe."

Now the area has been transformed.

"We are looking forward to having our hula students come to study hula and look out into the whole of Hau'ula, 'Ewa and Pu'uloa," Ai said. "We are hoping to revitalize the area sacred in ancient as well as in modern times, and to bringing to the little community of houses a sense of homage and pride."

The Sailors conducted the project as part of MCPON's "CPO-365" - a program instituted by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick D. West - to ensure prospective chief petty officers receive good training with their chiefs.

"Residents were overwhelmed with gratitude at the work we were accomplishing," said Region Hawaii CPO-365 coordinator, Chief Utilitiesman Shane Ouimette. "An older man who was walking his dog stopped to say how grateful he and his neighbors were for our efforts in making the area a better and more useful space."

The 50 Sailors filled 55-gallon trash bags, loaded a 5-ton truck and discarded brush and trimmings in green waste bins for proper recycling and disposal.

"Our chiefs believe in service to the community, teamwork and giving back," sais Navy Region Hawaii Command Master Chief Marc Sibal. "There is no match for good teamwork and the power of leadership by example."

In a letter to Sibal, Howard and Olana Ai wrote, "Your efforts in taking the bush away on the water's edge will really be the start to shoring up a community effort to improve our neighborhood. We will forever be grateful and look forward to a healthy relationship with you as time goes by.

"It was very touching to get such sincere thanks from Halau Hula Olana and to know that our chiefs and first class petty officers made a difference," Sibal said.

"I volunteered for this project because I hold near and dear the fact that we as Navy are visitors temporarily assigned, and I like to show my appreciation for being afforded the opportunity to serve here," Ouimette said.