by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer
US Naval Forces Central Command.
MANAMA, Bahrain – Commanders from the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility gathered in Bahrain May 20 – 22, for the USCENTCOM Commander’s Conference to discuss regional security issues and approaches to these challenges.The conference, hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, brought together Gen. David Petraeus, Commander, USCENTCOM, Gen. Ray Odierno, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, NAVCENT, Lt. Gen. William Webster, Commanding General, U.S. Army Central Command and Lt. Gen. Gary North, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, among others.
At the conference, commanders discussed various issues including operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, as well as counter-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia.
“We face, in this region, a number of interrelated threats and challenges, from transnational to state-centric, to those who blur the lines between the two,” said Petraeus. “At the transnational level, violent extremism is, needless to say, the most pressing challenge. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates pose the greatest such threat to many states in the region.”
U.S. commanders also talked about the security architecture in place throughout the region and the need for cooperative comprehensive approaches with regional partners.
“Such approaches involve significantly more than the application of just military or kinetic action,” said Petraeus. “In fact, they must do far more if they are to address not just the symptoms of current challenges, but also their underlying causes. The lack of sustainable economic development in certain parts of this region, for example, is not just a social or humanitarian issue it is a serious security concern as well.”
Piracy, threats to the maritime environment and the need for continued cooperation with Coalition and regional partners through Maritime Security Operations was also discussed by commanders during the conference.
“The complex threats that we face at sea require cooperative solutions,” said Gortney. “We will continue to work with our partners in the region to respond to these challenges and help ensure peace and stability in the region. U.S. Naval forces have operated in the region for six decades and we’ll be here for many more to come.”