USCENTCOM commander addresses maritime security

November 26, 2019

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander, U.S. Central Command addressed maritime security in the Middle East at the 15th Regional Security Summit of the IISS Manama Dialogue, Nov. 23, 2019.

“The Middle East remains of vital national interest to the United States. The various waterways, including the strategic maritime choke points of the Suez Canal, the Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Strait of Hormuz are major transit routes for energy and trade,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie stressed that maintaining safe waterways is a global responsibility.

“Our economies are globally connected; that is an undeniable fact. Ensuring freedom of navigation, especially in these vital areas of the maritime domain, is not only a necessity, but a global responsibility,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie stated that the U.S. military is uniquely suited and resourced to participate in many of these efforts with allies and partners around the world.

“As the US adjusts its posture to meet its global and my regional missions, an important element for us to consider is how we work with our partners to create flexible, scalable, sustainable approaches towards securing freedom and navigation,” said McKenzie. “The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) multinational naval partnership, currently with 33 participating countries, provides an instructive example.”

The CMF is a multinational naval partnership that includes three Combined Task Forces that promote security and stability across international waterways, encompassing some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

McKenzie cited the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) as another example of regional cooperation. The construct includes member nations Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and the United Kingdom and U.S.

“Working along with these international partners, we are helping to maintain freedom of navigation in and around the Strait of Hormuz by our presence, deterring malign actions, and lending attribution to those that do take place, regardless of the origin of the threat,” said McKenzie.

“As we and our partners in the region continue to work to provide security and stability, we must do so with the knowledge that we are stronger together. We must remember that our strategic strength rests mainly on the partnerships, the alliances, and the whole of government efforts that we bring to bear, together,” said McKenzie.

The Manama Dialogue provides opportunities for government leaders to engage directly with leading experts in the Central region.

This year’s summit included prime ministers, defense ministers, foreign ministers, national security advisers, and military and intelligence chiefs from over 20 countries gathered for three days of debate on ways to address security challenges in the region.

Link to complete transcript.