MUSCAT, Oman – U.S. Naval War College (NWC) held its 15th Regional Alumni Symposium in the Omani capital of Muscat, Oct. 24-25.
The two-day event, hosted in partnership with the Royal navy of Oman (RNO), brought together 82 NWC alumni and regional stakeholders from 14 nations to discuss common challenges in the region.
“For the last several years, dedicated Naval War College alumni from around the world have gathered to continue to honor our friendships and the exchange of ideas with confidence,” said Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, president of NWC during his opening remarks. “Our event today represents our continued partnerships between the war college, the country of Oman and fellow Middle Eastern nations, and our determination to collectively improve our navies’ readiness.”
Established in 2005, the goal of the symposia is to leverage the professional linkages among alumni and further the exchange of ideas about how regional nations can overcome challenges together, hence the theme of the event, “Strengthening Global Maritime Partnerships.”
“The emerging problems of today come in diverse forms that challenge each of our countries and our navies,” said Harley. “To meet these security challenges, we must continue to build trust and ensure that our relationships continue to grow.”
A number of U.S. and international flag officers participated in the event to include: Harley; retired Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command; Rear Adm. Abdullah bin Khamis Al Raisi, commander of the RNO; Rear Adm. Ahmed Al-Zayed, head of the Iraqi navy; retired Adm. Nirmal Kumar Verma, former chief of the Indian navy; Commodore Steven Dainton, deputy commander of Combined Maritime Forces and commander of United Kingdom Maritime Component Command; and several others from around the region.
Since creating a program for international officers in 1956, NWC now has more than 4,500 international alumni from 137 countries worldwide. A total of 455 of those alumni, or roughly 10 percent, have gone on to become chief of their country’s respected navy.
It’s no coincidence that Al Raisi, the events co-host, is a member of that elite group.
“Changes in today’s international security environment have expanded the current security significance of maritime and political interests,” said the 1990 NWC Naval Staff College graduate to those in attendance. “The importance of secure sea lines of communication has increased and there is global demand that relies on the sea for maritime trade.”
“Through this event, and the effort we will be making to focus on the near and emerging issues of security, we may become more sophisticated in our understanding of security and its profound significance for the way in which we approach issues.”
To achieve this goal, a wide range of issues were examined to include: maritime operations interoperability, confidence building and cooperation, counterpiracy, evolving geopolitics of oil, international norms and standards, seapower, the return of competent adversaries, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Nations with alumni or stakeholders who attended the event included: Bahrain, Egypt, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.
“World events continue to confirm the value of working with partners and friends,” said Julia A. Gage, NWC professor and director of alumni programs. “These symposia are real opportunities for naval leaders to come together and collectively ensure that the issues are being addressed and the relationships are being established and maintained.”