In the Gulf region, increasing Iranian interference in the air and maritime domains, the proliferation of combat arms to non-state actors, violent extremist activity, and strategic competition with Russia and China represent serious and persistent threats to regional security. These issues, coupled with a US shift in focus to the Indo-Pacific, bring to the fore an old question of how to best protect US and partner interests in the region, particularly as America reduces its presence. The military capabilities to protect oil tankers and other vessels have improved vastly since the re-flagging of Kuwaiti tankers in 1987 and 1988. However, through its threat network and asymmetric capabilities, Iran is poised to remain an enduring threat to regional stability. Policymakers must seriously consider a leading role for Gulf states in providing for their own security, with US support. Despite considerable investments in defense and security, it does not appear that Gulf states are yet prepared to take on this responsibility. It is in the United States’ best interest to work more effectively with its Gulf partners to fundamentally change this. Our team of experts, whose US government experience includes senior roles at the Department of Defense, Department of State, White House, and Intelligence Community, seeks to shape this new, enduring strategy, with an eye on sustainable success in protecting both US and partner interests in the Gulf.

Participants
LTG (Ret.) Mick Bednarek
Former Chief of the US Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq; Former Commander of the US First Army
Simone Ledeen
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Middle East Policy
Dr. Michael S. Bell
Professor, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Hon Mary Beth Long
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Hon R. Clarke Cooper
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
VADM (Ret.) Fozzie Miller
Former Commander
US Naval Forces Central Command/Combined Maritime Forces/US Fifth Fleet
VADM (Ret) Kevin M. Donegan
Former Commander
US Naval Forces Central Command/Combined Maritime Forces/US Fifth Fleet
RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery
Former Policy Director
US Senate Armed Services Committee
Andrew Exum
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy
VADM (Ret.) Peter Neffenger
Former Vice Commandant
US Coast Guard
Former Administrator
US Transportation Security Administration
Amb (Ret.) Tom Krajeski
Former US Ambassador to Bahrain and Yemen
CSM (Ret.) Cynthia A. Pritchett
Strategic Planner and CENTCOM Liaison, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies
National Defense University
Amb (Ret.) Greta Holtz
Former US Charge d’Affaires in Qatar and former US Ambassador in Oman
Norm Roule
Former National Intelligence Manager for Iran
LTG (Ret.) Charles Hooper
Former Director
Defense Security Cooperation Agency
Amb (Ret.) Justin Siberel
Former US Ambassador to Bahrain
LTG (Ret.) Michael Nagata
Former Director of Strategy
National Counterterrorism Center
Former Commander
USSOCOM-Central
Matt Spence
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy
Amb (Ret.) Richard LeBaron
Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow; Former US Ambassador to Kuwait
Atlantic Council Team
Kirsten Fontenrose
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative
Atlantic Council
Former Senior Director for the Gulf
National Security Council
Tom Warrick
Non-Resident Senior Fellow
Atlantic Council
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Counterterrorism
William F. Wechsler
Director, Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs
Atlantic Council
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combatting Terrorism
Commander Daniel Vardiman
Senior US Navy Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security
Atlantic Council
Caroline Donnal
Former Consultant, Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative
Atlantic Council

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