Monday, October 22, 2018
Last Updated: Monday, October 30, 2017

Global defense chiefs meet on Belvoir

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart William Peach Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart William Peach, United Kingdom Chief of Defence Staff, salutes as he enters the Belvoir Officers' Club Tuesday before the 2017 Chiefs of Defense Conference. Representatives from 75 countries attended to collaborate on the war on extremist violence.

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, welcomes more than 70 of the world's heads of defense to the 2017 Chief of Defense Conference at Fort Belvoir's Officers' Club Tuesday. The day-long summit focused on sharing information and local perspectives in the war on extremist violence.

By Adrienne Anderson
Staff Writer

More than 70 international chiefs of defense met at the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club, Tuesday, during the Chiefs of Defense for Counter-Violent Extremist Organizations Conference. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted the conference.

“Today was, in my opinion, a fairly historic day. We had representatives from over 75 countries and also NATO and the European Union to discuss the challenges of violent extremism,” Dunford said.

The conference at Belvoir was the second time it’s been conducted.

About 40 defense chiefs met last year at Joint Base Andrews.

To deal with the transregional threat of extremist groups, Dunford said it would require collective action from many nations. Although ISIS wasn’t the defense chiefs’ only concern, they did discuss the threat ISIS poses and its spread to other countries.

“We realized the most effective action against these groups is local action,” he said. “But, that local action has to be informed by the nature of the threat, which is a transregional threat. So, cooperation globally, is important.”

At a strategic level, they would also need to “cut the connectivity” between the groups, Dunford said.

Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, spoke about the campaign against ISIS. They managed to take 90,000 square-kilometers from ISIS, which the extremist group has not been able to regain. As a result, 6.6 million people have been liberated from ISIS, and 2.3 million Iraqis have been able to return to their homes. He noted they are seeing similar trends in Syria.

Although Iraq and Syria get a lot of attention, it’s not just about that, McGurk said, explaining that they are also tracking ISIS and other groups in other countries.

Dunford called the conference a success and said it shows the dedication of many nations committed to counter violent extremism.

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