US Marine Corps General Joe Dunford used his invite to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland to visit British bases in the area and speak with UK defence officials on a wide range of defence topics.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was invited months ago by his UK counterpart, British Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, to visit the tattoo and take the salute from the British units participating in the event.

“I didn’t realize how big the tattoo was when I accepted,” Dunford said during an interview on a flight back to Washington. “I learned.”

The tattoo ceremony is held at the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle the month of August, and more than 210,000 attend the event with about 100 million viewing the event on TV, according to news reports.

Earlier in the day, Dunford met with Michael Fallon and Peach to discuss a full range of issues from the South Asia strategy to the situation in East Asia – specifically North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Both from my trip and the [positive] rhetoric that is coming out of Beijing is that the economic and political pressure is having an effect,” Dunford said. “It remains to be seen if the campaign will be successful, but there are indications that things are heading in the right direction.”

Dunford also discussed opportunities for continued military-to-military engagement between the United States and the UK “We obviously have a very strong relationship with the U.K., and they are with us in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dunford said.

The General also visited the future HMS Prince of Wales being built in Rosyth, Scotland.

“Any future fight is going to require a coalition, and interoperability is a critical and fundamental element of alliance and coalition warfare,” Dunford said. “This reflects the close nature of the alliance and bodes well for the interoperability.”

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tours the nuclear-fleet submarine HMS Ambush during a visit to Scotland, Aug. 25, 2017. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominque A. Pineiro
Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tours the nuclear-submarine HMS Ambush during the visit.

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