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'Indian, Pak army officers should attend joint classes in US'

A top US General on Wednesday said that senior military officers from India and Pakistan should jointly attend military classes in the United States and study American civil war together.

world Updated: Jul 28, 2010 11:13 IST

A top US General on Wednesday said that senior military officers from India and Pakistan should jointly attend military classes in the United States and study American civil war together.

Such a move, General James Mattis said, would create the much needed trust between the military leaders of the two countries, which is required in addition to the diplomatic efforts between the leaders of India and Pakistan.

"As we all know, they (India and Pakistan) have fought several wars over a number of issues. There's the Kashmir issue. There's any number of terrorist attacks," Gen James Mattis said in his confirmation hearing before the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.

"But I think the most important thing we can do in support of the diplomatic efforts which will fundamentally be how we change something like this, is to help bring the officer corps of both militaries together and create trust between them, allow them to perhaps attend our school together," Mattis said.

US President Barack Obama has nominated Gen Mattis as his Commander for the US Central Command, which handles Afghanistan and Pakistan. India comes under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Command.

"As they do, they get to know each other there and even do some of the things we've done elsewhere in the world where we bring different sides during frozen conflicts together," he argued.

"For example, at the Army School at Leavenworth, they're up at Carlisle Barracks, and let them study our Civil War together. And after a few days, they start warming up. I think there are ways for us to build trust between officer corps that will help stabilise these issues, but it's fundamentally a political problem, not a military one of course," Mattis said in response to a question from Senator Scott Brown.

Earlier in written response to Senator's questions, Mattis said that Pakistan has concerns about any military cooperation between the US and India, which affects both their relationship with Islamabad and, indirectly, the US efforts in Afghanistan.

"However, we make clear to Pakistan that our military cooperation and engagement is not a threat to Pakistan and that this is not a zero-sum game. We have important relationships and strategic partnerships with both countries that are not at the expense of either," Mattis said.

The US General said close coordination between Central Command (CENTCOM) and Pacific Command (PACOM) is a recognized condition for the regions' challenges to be addressed.

"Though some advantages could be realised with India and Pakistan in one AOR, PACOM and CENTCOM, with adequate coordination mechanisms to address US interests in the region, can work symbiotically on long-term security measures," Mattis said.