Saturday February 19th: Official Conference of IDEX in Abu Dhabi
By Gaelle Znaty
02/21/2011 – In honor of its 10th edition, Idex in Abu Dhabi innovated and offered a day of conference and debates, called the Gulf Defense Conference (GDC) which brought together senior military figures of the Gulf, the Middle East, Europe and North America. Inegma – INEGMA – Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis – the Middle-Eastern think-tank in the field of military and strategic affairs, has been appointed as the official organizer of this day of conference and has led a successful of day of exchanges and debates in the framework of this GDC.
Soutien, Logistique Défense and its associate website Second Line of Defense, as media partners of the event have followed these debates and summarized the highlights of this day. A more detailed report on each of the speakers’ intervention will be available in the coming weeks.
In total nine speakers were brought to the podium and many themes were addressed throughout the day: the emerging threats in the Gulf region, strategic alliances between the Gulf countries and the West as well as the advent of new technologies that will allow to ensure a regional stability.
- Major General Essa Saif Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Deputy Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces gave the first keynote address and set the tone for the day by reaffirming the everlasting partnership between the United Arab Emirates and its Western partners. He reminded the audience of the primordial importance of an exhibition show such as Idex, as it provides a forum for meetings and exchanges between experts from the Gulf and from the rest of the world.
This western strategic alliance was embodied by Gerald Howarth, the UK Minister for International Security Strategy, who evoked the very strong links existing between his country and the UAE and with the Gulf region in general: “We in Britain want to build strong, reliable, and enduring strategic partnerships throughout the Gulf region by strengthening existing alliances, and promoting alliances with new, important allies”.
- The first plenary session took place in attendance of the Lieutenant General Markku Koli, Chief of Staff, Finnish Defence Command, as well as Major General Chawki El Masry, Chief of Staff of Lebanese Armed Forces and with Lieutenant General Bruno Kasdorf, the Deputy Commander of the German Army.
The intervention of the Lieutenant General Markku Koli on the evolution of Network Centric Operation has caught the attention of many present in the audience. He drew examples from the Finnish experience to show how the Finnish armed forces adapted the communications systems to the different services of the armed forces. He admitted to the complexity of the process notably because of “the culture differences between the different services”. However, he further noted the critical aspect of its integration within the armed forces in order to establish a maximum level of trust throughout the different services.
The growing importance of Network Centric Operation was also echoed in the speech offered by Lieutenant General Bruno Kasdorf as he believes that network centric operations ” will be one of the most important components of military operations in the future.”
The Chief of Staff of the Lebanese Armed Forces then took the stage and talked about the Civilian-Military Cooperation and insisted on “the need from the military point of view to establish a platform that is applied to civilian needs as well”. This will help in the longer run, he said, to extricate Lebanon from the threats in the region.
- The theme of the second plenary session was maritime security. In attendance were the Brigadier General Naval Staff Ibrahim Salim Al Musharrakh, Commander of te UAE Naval Forces, the US’ Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette, Deputy Commander, Naval Forces Central, Commander of the Fifth Fleet, and the Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas, Deputy Chief of the Royal Australian Navy.
This session allowed the speakers to discuss the different threats swirling in the region such as low intensity surface and underwater naval warfare as well as the new technologies introduced in the region for counter-mine operations. They also reminded the audience of the importance of greater naval cooperation between the navies of the GCC to counter the rising threats of the region.
- Lastly in the third and last session appeared Major General Malek Habashneh, Commander of Royal Jordanian Air Force as well as Major General Berndt Grundevik, Commander, Swedish Army and Brigadier General (P) Eric Margail, DCOS for Employment and Support, French Land Forces.
The speakers evoked different subjects all pertaining to the future developments of the defense industry. Most particularly, the Brigadier General Eric Margail analyzed of the current artillery used by the French armed forces (in particular the Ceasa, already in used in Afghanistan, with a range of 40km). He then evoked the future technology, in the French case, by taking example on the Lance Roquette Unitaire (Unitary Rocket Launcher).