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Joint Staff Director: Arab nations bring professionalism to ISIL fight

By WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2014

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Sept. 30, 2014 — Arab countries are bringing a great deal of professionalism and pride to their activities over Iraq and Syria, the director of the Joint Staff said here this week.

Speaking at an Air Force Association breakfast Sept. 23, Air Force Lt. Gen. David L. Goldfein said it is “very significant” that five Arab countries joined the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He noted that this wasn’t the first time Arab nations came forward. Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan helped in air operations over Libya. Goldfein previously served as commander of U.S. Central Command’s Air Force component.

The Arab nations fit right in with operations against ISIL, he said. “I actually got to fly with each of the countries in the Gulf,” the general said. “What I came away with is there may be no better example in how an investment in building partner capacity has paid off.”

The Arab pilots were all graduates of the Gulf Air Warfare Center sponsored by the United Arab Emirates. The facility is similar to the U.S. Air Force’s Red Flag facility in Nevada, he said. When he flew in the back seat of a Kuwaiti or Bahrani aircraft, Goldfein said, “I could have been in the backseat of one of our best weapons instructors” at Nellis Air Force Base. “I was watching the same quality of radar work, the same quality of communications, the same quality of integration,” he added.

"A force that has grown over time..."

This is a force that has grown over time, Goldfein said.

“And it has grown because we trained together at a level that has paid off,” he said. “We often don’t connect those dots. There was a time when it would have been very challenging to integrate them into any operation.”

The general said each nation can have a great deal of pride in its participation. “From everything I’ve seen so far, this is a very successful event,” he added.

Goldfein took exception to those who believe that there is a gap between what military leaders recommend and what civilian leaders do. “This is a really important ‘civ-mil’ moment this week,” he said.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that if the conditions on the ground change, he may go to the president and “recommend to him that we accompany the Iraqi forces,” Goldfein noted.

“That was played out over the course of the week as if there was a big rift,” he said. “I would argue that that is exactly the way the process ought to work. That’s the reason the president has senior military commanders and a military advisor -- to give military advice. And [civilian leaders] have every right not to take that advice, but they have to hear it. For him to state that if the conditions change I may come to the president and make this recommendation is exactly how the process should work.”