When National Guard Bureau chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel looks back at his time as the senior US defense official in Cairo from June 2011 to August 2012, he sees how quickly the region has changed. In his role, he attended a one-year anniversary celebration of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s ousting and said the crowd rushed him and demanded US involvement in Syria because 2,000 people had been killed in the growing unrest there. “I think back to that time and how much has happened along the lines, it’s been an amazing unfolding of events across the Middle East and in Syria,” Lengyel told the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Lengyel said the intervention request was discussed “immensely,” but noted it was made a long time ago. The years-long civil war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.