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Dempsey, Israeli counterpart pledge ongoing partnership

Email   Print   Share By Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service
August 15, 2013 | Across DoD
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U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro. meets Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday.
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Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deanie, are greeted upon their arrival in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday. Dempsey is on a multi-day trip to Israel and Jordan to meet with his military counterparts there. (Photos by D. Myles Cullen, DoD)
TEL AVIV, Israel - On his first full day in Israel this week, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met Tuesday with Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, chief of the Israeli general staff.

After the meeting, the two generals spoke about their interaction.

After welcoming Dempsey, Gantz noted the Middle East is going through major changes that will have strategic consequences.

“We must be aware of them,” he said, noting that he and Dempsey have discussed these issues in the past and will do so again in the future.

“The cooperation between our two countries and, as a result, between our respective organizations, is a important cooperation,” Gantz said.

Gantz said the two leaders had “very fruitful” discussions about the region and how to promote freedom, security and liberty.

He said to Dempsey, “With your leadership and your friendship, I think we can (meet) any potential challenge in this region.”

In his return comments, the chairman said this visit to Israel – his fourth as chairman – serves two important purposes: to continue to build the strong military-to-military relationship between the United States and Israel, and to gain regional insight from Gantz and other key leaders.

That interaction, Dempsey said, allows the two nations to compare notes and “see how we see issues as they are evolving: in Syria, in Egypt and with Iran.”

He said such senior-leader engagements, whether here or in the states, “help us understand these complex situations … and then actually illuminate not only the vulnerabilities and threats, but also the opportunities.”

The chairman’s travels continued with a visit to Jordan, a nation that Dempsey said he has learned much since he took command of U.S. Central Command more than five years ago.

“There, too, you’ve got a long-standing relationship with a military that has been a very close partner … and has also deployed with us,” the chairman said Monday. “Physically, with my counterpart, I want to understand how they see the issues – both emanating out of Syria, but also emanating out of Egypt – affecting their plans moving forward.”

Jordan has Syria on its northern border and, to the south west, Egypt lies less than ten miles across the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba. Dempsey last month called the situation in Syria “a human tragedy.” The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict that has now raged in that country since March 2011. U.N. officials said the Syrian civil war has led to the world’s worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide – more than 1.5 million Syrians have fled the country and millions more are internally displaced.

One of the central challenges in crafting an effective international response to Syria is identifying a moderate opposition group that might establish stability if Bashar Assad’s regime falls, Dempsey said. The chairman said part of the United States approach to the Syria situation is to increase the self-defense capabilities of its international partners, “whether those partners are Turks, through our NATO channels; Lebanese armed forces; Jordanian armed forces; Israelis – and as well, the Iraqis,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey said U.S. partners in the region may become “even more eager partners” as events in Syria keep unfolding.

“I think our ability to find common ground and common purpose with our regional partners is actually increasing,” he added.

Conflict in the Middle East moves in cycles, Dempsey said, noting, “Our adversaries will always migrate where we’re not, on that spectrum of conflict.”

He added that one of the lessons of history is that “What is symmetric today is asymmetric tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow it’s symmetric again. It’s a series of actions, reactions and counteractions.”
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