USARCENT hosts 2018 senior strategy session

July 16, 2018

U.S. Army Central hosted leaders from eight partner nations for the 2018 Senior Strategy Session – Arabian Peninsula / Levant here July 9-12.

Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett, the commanding general for USARCENT, provided opening remarks and welcomed partner-nation general officers and participants who traveled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon to discuss emerging threats and interoperability.

The annual symposium promoted the successes of ongoing coalition action and afforded the opportunity to discuss building interoperability and pursuit of mutual national interests. It also fostered support for regionally-combined activities and initiatives.

A variety of speakers shared their insight and expertise on several topics including the structure of a coalition, the threat of chemical weapons, international law, the role of a coalition during combat and security cooperation, amongst other topics.

One of the specific topics discussed was the concept of a Coalition Land Operations Center to counter threats to international stability. A CLOC provides fully integrated capabilities to counter conflict. In the USARCENT area of operations, it could allow regional partners and allies to amass their resources and leverage them more effectively against global threats.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, former U.S. Army Central commanding general (2013-2015) and the first commander of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, shared about his own experiences as an operational commander within the current structure of coalition operations. He heavily impressed upon the participants the need for shared intelligence, training and communication to ultimately defeat current and future adversaries. Terry agreed one of the best ways to do this was through the creation of a CLOC.

The CLOC would enable Soldiers to operate alongside partner nations with lines of communication on unified data networks and varied digital systems in a multinational environment. This initiative would follow suit to the Coalition Air Operations Center and Coalition Maritime Operations Center currently led by the U.S. Air Forces Central Command and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command respectively. The CAOC comprises joint and coalition teams that execute day-to-day combined air and space operations. In contrast, the CMOC is a coalition that manages at-sea operations.

Most importantly this will provide an advantage to war fighting capabilities in times of unprecedented and extreme conflict.

Brig. Gen. Jonathan McColumn, the USARCENT deputy chief of staff for sustainment, said it’s important to emphasize readiness in advance of crisis. It’s imperative to do all that can be done to build interoperability and coordinate before a major conflict arises, he added.

Garrett encouraged participants to take advantage of upcoming partner-nation exercises like Eager Light, Eager Lion, Bright Star and Iron Union to advance collaboration efforts. He also stressed the importance of using these exercises to identify areas for improvement.

“Coalitions are hard to form, and they are even harder to form during crisis. Training is where we will make the biggest impact on our ability to fight together,” Garrett added.

Training together is an opportunity to show partner nations how the U.S. Army has developed their NCO Corps into a professional and competent workforce. The upcoming multinational exercises will allow both the commissioned officers and NCOs to conduct professional development with partner nations in their respective areas of expertise.

Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph C. Cornelison, the USARCENT senior enlisted advisor, emphasized a viable NCO corps to make armies better, stronger and more capable. The officers of the Continental Army could not have been successful had they not empowered their NCO’s, he added.

Speakers and participants were also given the opportunity to engage in discussions centering on the complexities and lessons learned from Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational efforts during ongoing theatre campaigns.

One of the participants from the Levant expressed a desire to include members of the diplomatic community at the next conference who are assigned to their region as their missions cannot be accomplished without military support and compliance with the security cooperation agreements they oversee.

Garrett concluded the conference by thanking the participants for their enthusiasm and participation and instilled confidence in the approaching inception of an USARCENT CLOC in the Middle East region. The next conference will likely be held in the Middle East region to allow even more participation from partner nations and further develop the approach towards a fully integrated coalition network.


USARCENT encompasses a 20-country area of operation including the Arabian Peninsula and Levant regions in addition to Central Asia. It is a unique, dynamic and complex operating environment with growing strength of the military to military relationship.

Additional speakers who participated in the conference included Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commanding general, U.S. Central Command; Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency; retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Terry A. Wolff, director, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies; Maj. Ryan O’Reilly, strategic planner, USARCENT; Andreea Paulopol, physical scientist, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance and the Office of Chemical and Biological Weapons Affairs; Dr. Gawdat Bahgat, professor, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies; Dr. Marc A. Genest, Forrest Sherman Professor of Public Diplomacy and Dr. Michael Yaffe, vice president, Middle East and Africa Center, United States Institute of Peace.

From the U.S. Army War College speakers included Dr. Gregory L. Cantwell, director, Joint Force Land Component Commander Course; Dr. John A. Bonin, professor of Concepts and Doctrine; Dr. Christopher Bolan, professor of Middle East Security Studies; Dr. Richard Love, professor of Peacekeeping and Stability Operations and Dr. Charles Pfaff, research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute.