The US boosts military ties with Sri Lanka


The US boosts military ties with Sri Lanka

Vijith Samarasinghe

17 January 2019

Recent visits by US Seventh Fleet vessels to Sri Lanka’s eastern port of Trincomalee make clear that the island nation is rapidly being integrated into Washington’s war preparations against China. The Seventh Fleet, which is headquartered in Japan, is an offensive formation geared for war and includes 60–70 ships, 300 aircraft and more than 40,000 combat personnel.

In early December, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis visited Trincomalee, in eastern Sri Lanka, as part of the Pentagon’s plans to establish a Logistics Hub there for the US Navy. USS Anchorage, another Seventh Fleet vessel, and a unit of Marines visited the port last August to assess the port’s feasibility as a logistics hub.

Trincomalee, which is the world’s second deepest natural harbour, is of great strategic military value in the Indian Ocean. It served as the naval command hub for the British Eastern Fleet during the last years of World War II.

Commenting on USS Stennis’s visit, an unnamed a diplomat in Colombo told the Nikkei Asian Review on December 29: “Trinco [Trincomalee] is a logical choice because it is the most important piece of strategic real estate in Sri Lanka. These are signs of new thinking in Washington regarding this part of South Asia, where over the past six years the Chinese presence has become so obvious and widespread.”

Washington’s push for a logistics hub at the port comes as the Trump administration is ratcheting up its trade war measures against China. On December 31, Trump signed the “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act,” which aims to broadly strengthen the US strategic position across Asia against China.

The US Navy’s focus on Trincomalee also explains Washington’s…

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