Ex-US Military Chief: "No good reason to oppose Chagossian return."
As the UK government near a decision on whether to support a Chagossian return programme, the future of the US military facility on Diego Garcia, the largest Chagos Island, is also due to be decided at the end of this year.
In the past government ministers have expressed "concern" about the possibility of a returned population living alongside the US military base. This, however, has been directly contradicted by ex-Assistant Secretary of State of Defense, Lawrence Korb.
Mr Korb, who served under President Regan and remains an active commentator on US military issues, states in his letter (reprinted in full below) that there is "no good national security reason for not allowing the native Chagossians to return to all of Chagos, including Diego Garcia."
He correctly adds that is in fact standard practice for US military bases around the world to "have the indigenous population living near-by, and actually employ some of these people." Chagossian return, he states definitively, would not undermine the US military mission "in any way."
"Resettlement assistance and additional compensation" should, he suggests, be offered to the Chagossian people in view of the "misery they have endured for the past several decades."
Mr Korb's view echoes that of the military base's designer, the late Stewart Barber
Lawrence Korb, Ex-US Assistant Secretary of State for Defense, letter in full
Based on my experiences as Assistant Secretary of State of defence with responsibility for, among other areas, installations and logistics and my 23 years of service in the United States Naval Reserve (including four years on active duty as a Naval Flight Officer), I can see no good national security reason for not allowing the native Chagossians to return to all of Chagos, including Diego Garcia. In fact, after reviewing the situation, I can see no reason why they were evicted in the first place.
While there is no doubt Diego Garcia is a critical base for projecting US power throughout the greater Middle East, there is good reason why allowing Chagossians to return would undermine that mission in any way. There are many US bases around the globe that not only have the indigenous population living near but actually employ some of these people on the base.
I also believe that the Chagossians wishing to return should receive not only resettlement assistance but additional compensation for the misery that they have endured for the past several decades.