Aug 26, 2013

    US may up military funding for Asean

    THE Pentagon is seeking a 50 per cent increase in funds to support foreign militaries and training in South-east Asia, United States Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

    "Our most recent budget includes US$90 million (S$115 million) for Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training programmes in South-east Asia," Mr Hagel said at Malaysia's Ministry of Defence.

    The budget request represents a 50 per cent increase compared with that four years ago, he said.

    The Foreign Military Financing programme provides grants or loans to help other countries buy US weapons.

    The military-education programme pays for foreign officers to study and train with US forces.

    As part of the US strategy to rebalance forces towards the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon is also stepping up weapon sales and transfers of technology, Mr Hagel said.

    "This will allow us to share American technology and expertise, which will further deepen our security partnerships," he added.

    Mr 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 Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus, a gathering of the 10 defence ministers from the region as well as eight other nations with interests in South-east Asia, including the US, China and Russia.