US announces $300m in security assistance

Kathmandu, August 5

United States Secretary of State Michael Richard Pompeo has announced the intent to provide around $300 million in security assistance to improve security relationships across the Indo-Pacific region, including Nepal.

Pompeo made such an announcement at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore yesterday. The assistances include $290.5 million in Foreign Military Financing to strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and peacekeeping capabilities, and $8.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement funds to counter transnational crime.

This funding commitment comes shortly after Secretary Pompeo and other senior Administration officials announced new economic and development initiatives at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington DC, demonstrating a strong, whole-of-government US commitment to both economic and security engagement and assistance in the Indo-Pacific, according to a press release issued by the US Department of State.

“For more than seven decades, US engagement has advanced freedom, openness, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The President’s National Security Strategy identified advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific among our most important priorities. The United States aims to ensure the freedom of the seas and skies, promote market economics, support good governance, and insulate sovereign nations from external coercion, while enabling partners to protect and advance the rules-based order,” read the statement.

The security assistance funding will cover projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and others, according to a press release issued by the US Department of State.

The projects will cover areas including maritime security, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief assistance, and countering transnational crime.

Under maritime security, the US will work with partners across the Indo-Pacific region to develop coastal radar-enhanced maritime domain awareness with manned and unmanned aerial systems, maritime platforms for rapid deployment of HA/DR efforts, and increased information sharing mechanisms to link security and defence institutions at the operational level.

The US will work with partners in Southeast Asia and the Pacific to help nations successfully monitor their exclusive economic zones and address transnational threats. Assistance will focus on training and logistical support to improve MDA and patrol capacity, as well as professionalisation and maintenance capacity to assist partners in developing defence and security institutions.

The US will also work with partners in the Bay of Bengal, including India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to enhance the capacity of civilian and military maritime actors in the Indian Ocean Region to improve the target areas of detection, information-sharing, and response to emerging threats.

Under the HA/DR assistance, the support will focus on improving search and rescue capabilities, the development of disaster risk reduction strategies, and logistical support to provide short-term solutions in times of need.

Under the peacekeeping operations, the US will continue to work with partners in the Indo-Pacific to strengthen both regional and global peacekeeping capabilities and address critical mission shortfalls by focusing on the deployment of enabling capabilities.

“The Indo-Pacific countries are steady contributors to UN peacekeeping missions, with Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Fiji, and Nepal consistently among the top-ten troop-contributing countries,” read the press release.