ALEXANDRIA, Va., –
U.S. Army Central’s senior leadership assembled for a four-day conference with six partner nations from Central and South Asia for the USARCENT Land Forces Symposium here June 19-22.
The symposium gave senior leaders, such as Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett, command-ing general, USARCENT, as well as military representatives from USARCENT’s partner nations in the region an opportunity to hear from civilian and military experts on issues of importance to global and regional security.
Leading 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.
"While some would say that the easy answer is to simply shut-down borders and to live in isolation, the asymmetric threats that we all face in our current operating environment make this option both infeasible and unobtainable. As hard as it may be in some cases, the better answer is build relationships and to cooperate with each other," said Garrett.
With that goal, the experts spoke on topics ranging from defeating ISIS, under-standing Iranian malign influence in the region, and what a post-conflict Syria and Iraq will look like.
Dr. Rod Schoonover, Director of Environmental and Natural Resources for the National Intelligence Council who spoke on how changes to global temperature, water scarcity, deforestation, and overfishing can affect the U.S. and our partner nations in the region, adding to the diversity of ideas.
"Countries that are most vulnerable to such stresses are those with weak political institutions, poor economic conditions, and existing political strife. Addressing instabil-ity would require not only understanding and mitigating the environmental stresses di-rectly but also through strengthening the political and social institutions within a given state," said Schoonover.
While it may be useful to have civilian and military experts form the U.S. speak, the learning was not a one-way affair. In fact, one of the benefits of gathering the partner nation representatives was gaining their insights into the region through open discussion and during the one-on-one bilateral meetings that also took place during the symposium.
The USARCENT 20-country area of operation includes the Levant, Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. It is a unique, dynamic and complex operating environment. And while the symposium’s focus was on the Central and South Asian region, the knowledge gained can have a broader usefulness across globe. Knowledge means the in-dividual understands the nature of the area, knows how best to fight the enemy and how to protect against threats.
This reality holds true with the partner nation representatives as well. Knowing more about the concerns of your neighboring country, whether those concerns are secu-rity, economic, political, or even environmental, can have a large impact.
"I think what was very useful for all the nations in the Central Asian Region, is that they have to know what is going on in the region and that they have to come together to help each other to fight against terrorists like Al Qaida and ISIS," said Col. Abdul Hadi Barakzai of the Afghan National Army, "I think there was a pretty good experience and everybody got to speak their view about the region."
USARCENT demonstrates its enduring commitment to its partners by continuing to build on existing relationships and understanding the culture of the region. The com-mand plans on continuing to help ensure that the countries in the region can work to-gether to meet security challenges.