Stars & Stripes: US boosting military funds for Southeast Asia, Hagel says

Photo of the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Photo of the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pentagon is seeking a 50 percent increase in funds to support foreign militaries and training in the Southeast Asia region, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. “Our most recent budget includes $90 million for Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training programs in Southeast Asia,” Hagel said in prepared remarks to be delivered at Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense. The budget request represents a 50 percent increase compared with four years ago, he said. The Foreign Military Financing program provides grants or loans to help other countries buy U.S. weapons. The military education program pays for foreign officers to study and train with U.S. forces. As part of the U.S. strategy to rebalance forces toward the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon also is stepping up weapons sales and transfers of technology, Hagel said. “We are also increasing commercial defense trade, and ultimately envision moving towards co-production and co-development of new platforms with our closest partners in the region,” Hagel said. “This will allow us to share American technology and expertise which will further deepen our security partnerships.” Hagel is on a week-long visit to Asia and plans to visit Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines. In Brunei he will attend the Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, a gathering of the 10 defense ministers from the region as well as eight other nations with interests in Southeast Asia, including the U.S., China and Russia. (Source)

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