TYSON’S CORNER, Va., –
The senior leaders of U.S. Army Central assembled for a three-day conference with five partner nations from the Middle East for the third annual Senior Strategy Symposium here May 2.
The symposium gave senior leaders, such as Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett commanding general, USARCENT, an opportunity to hear from civilian and military experts on the Middle East and gain insights from senior military leaders from the region.
Kicking off the symposium, Garrett spoke on the need to use the event to come together and develop the solutions to today’s challenges in the region.
"I ask this also because, as military officers, we understand that threats within the region are not diminishing; rather, threats in our region are multiplying. Our improved cooperation is essential if we are to preserve the peace, prosperity, and security in the Middle East and Levant regions," Garrett said.
With that goal, the experts spoke on topics ranging from defeating ISIS, understanding Iranian malign influence in the region, and what a post-conflict Syria and Iraq will look like. The fact that several of the experts are civilians also provided the room full of military members the chance to look at the region through a different lens.
"It gives us a different perspective, it gives us different views, and it gives them an opportunity to analyze what we do," said Lt. Col. Walid Nasr, USARCENT, G37 Middle East branch chief.
But, the symposium was not a one-sided affair; open discussions on the topics allowed for all of the participants to add to the conversation. This was especially true for the partner nation representatives. They added a perspective that the average U.S. military member or civilian may not have.
The USARCENT area of operation includes the Levant, Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. It is a unique, dynamic and complex operating environment. Having a greater knowledge of the operational environment is perhaps the surest way to victory. Knowledge means the individual understands the nature of the area, knows how best to fight the enemy and how to protect against threats.
Beyond new perspectives and knowledge, there was an additional benefit for USARCENT to host the symposium.
"What we’re hoping to take away from this symposium is the relationships," Nasr said. "It’s building on the relationships that we have, mending the relationships that we don’t have, and also at the same time share a common picture for the safety and security not only for our colleagues in the Middle East, but also the United States."
These relationships will likely prove to be a major source of strength for USARCENT. By continuing to build on existing relationships and understand the culture of the region, USARCENT demonstrates its enduring commitment to the region. Add to that the knowledge gained from the lecturers and participants and U.S. Army Central will help prevent future conflict, but also be ready to win if one does arise.
"There is strength in presenting a united front to our enemies and to our potential enemies. By forming coalitions that can fight and train together, we can deter these extremists and prove we can work together," Garrett said.