Attention to regional partnerships is at the core of the US’ military strategy in the Middle East, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, said Wednesday. Speaking at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., Votel said that, in the Middle East, the US military confronts civil war, terrorism, Sunni-Shia conflicts, and the reality of Iran as a “force of instability.” In dealing with these complicated challenges, he said the three planks of “the long term role of the United States” in the region are to “listen to what our partners are telling us,” “reinforce relationships” with those allies, and “be responsive to our partners.” While warning that this strategy “doesn’t mean always saying ‘yes,’” Votel said that it called for a focus on “foreign military sales” and continuing to ramp up the training of partner military forces. He pointed to the United Arab Emirates as an example of a nation that has invested in defense and “can become a leader within the region.” (See also: Fostering International Partnership.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.