Middle East Special Operations Commanders Conference (MESOC 2014)

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Amman –Under the royal patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and with the support of the Jordanian Joint Special Operations Command, the 7th edition of the Middle East Special Operations Commanders Conference (MESOC 2014); SOFEX official conference; was opened today with the arrival of H.H. Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein representing H.M. King Abduallah II at Le Royal, Amman and immediately followed by Jordan’s Royal Salute. Lieutenant General Mashal Mohammed Al Zaben, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Jordan, delivered the keynote speech on behalf of His Majesty, addressing the importance of applying lessons learned and developing international alliances to enhance performance in the future.

The conference was organized by the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) and gathered official delegations of defense ministers, chiefs of staff, commanders of the special operation forces, ambassadors, military attachés from dozens of countries, as well as Secretary General of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers. They discussed Special Forces in the age of digital warfare and the evolution its role. The following counties were represented: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Ukraine, United States and Yemen.
Mr. Riad Kahwaji, CEO o f INEGMA, thanked the high level audience for their attendance, the Jordanian armed forces for their strong and unlimited support, and all the sponsors for their constant support. He said: “Special Operations Forces are the backbone of all armies, especially when dealing with counter-insurgency, combating terrorism and even in peacekeeping operations.” He added: “All modern armies should invest heavily in bolstering their special operations forces' capabilities.” Later, during his keynote address, Lieutenant General Mashal Mohammed Al Zaben, told participants about the sustained and continuous efforts by the Jordanian Armed Forces for national security readiness and peace-of-mind for its citizens as well as how Jordan values enduring international partnerships in dealing with complex security changes. He added: “First, the Global War on Terror is considered a long war, so we should think about the demands that we need to change and develop the way of the armed forces to satisfy our responses on changing threats. Second, the Special Forces are the backbone of the armed forces, that should be adapting to the requirements of the long war.”

The first session was chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Khaled al Faisal, Royal Saudi Navy Captain (R), and included three speakers. Major General Hussein Hawatmeh, Commander of the Jordanian Rangers Brigade, presented “Tomorrow's Risk Is Today.” Major General Hawatmeh spoke about the emergence of many new threats, and discussed Al Qaeda using instability, illiteracy and poverty to exploit the situation in Syria. He also spoke about the emerging environment where new threats, new technologies, and international cooperation lay the basis for forces to act rapidly across the spectrum of strategic scenarios at home and abroad. Major General Michael Nagata, Commander, of SOCCENT in the United States, delivered a lecture on “Global Operational Environment Dynamics and Addressing the Evolving Role of Special Forces.” He stated the building understanding the environment is bec oming increasingly both more complex and critical to success. The energy and focus on understanding the environment and actors in those environments must be invested like never before, because even the best tactics may not prove effective without this. He added that threat of terrorism and extremism knows no bounds – it can occur in the cyber and psychological worlds as well as the physical. He suggested that special operations forces must change how they make investments because having the best possible access to information and intelligence, through technology as well as building international partnerships, will define success in the future. Major General Maurizio Fioravanti, Commander of the Italian Joint Special Operations Forces, concluded the first session presenting the “Core Enabling Capabilities for Search and Rescue Operations in Hostile Territories Forces.” He stated that such operations are successfully performed when the demand s of low visibility, small sized units, flexibility, availability of non-conventional networks, and limited timeframes are addressed by special operations forces. He highlighted the vital role of light and rapid command and control (C2) capabilities, and access to information and intelligence within such operations.

The second session was moderated by Serge Buchakjian, Senior Vice President and General Manager of International Programs at Oshkosh Defense and featured three speakers. Brigadier General Dag Baehr, Commander of the German Special Forces Command KSK, opened this session with his presentation on “Stealth and Electronic Warfare in Special Operations Mission.” He emphasized how the modern battlefield is becoming increasingly advanced technologically, and that military operations are conducted today in increasingly complex electromagnetic environments. He told delegates that effective electronic warfare must be able to switch from ‘gathering’ to ‘hunting’ in an emerging environment where exponential growth in electronically connected devices has taken place around the world. He was followed by Colonel Musallam Mohammed Alrashedi, Commander of the UAE Special Operations, who f ocused on “The Roles of Special Forces in the Digital Age.” He examined the shift towards greater information availability that is more knowledge-based, computerized, and automated, allowing for increased efficiency. He stated that today’s warfare is 5th Generation Warfare, characterized by fully deniable and covert operations, including cyber warfare. He argued that while the roles of Special Forces are evolving in the digital age, the fundamental nature of Special Forces will not change. Colonel AlRashedi concluded that Special Forces will continue to develop a role as a direct support to law enforcement, especially in missions beyond the capability of civilian police. Colonel Richard Campbell, Deputy Commander of the Australia Special Operations Commands, concluded this session with discussing “Future Sea/Land Counter Terrorism Missions – Next Generation Amphibious Capabilities for Special Operations Forces.” He examine d Australia’s history and current status of the maritime and amphibious environment, continuing with a description of the challenges of digitalization. Colonel Campbell closed with stating that Australia’s maritime technology allows for short notice, relevant, and ready special operations response.

The third session was chaired by Major General Omar Al Khaldi, PhD, Chief of Strategic Planning at the Jordanian Armed Forces and featured three speakers. Brigadier General Aref al Zaben, Military Commandant & Deputy Director KASOTC, addressed “Information Operations,” adding that extreme importance resides in media, stating that there is a race for the hearts and minds of people.He recounted information operations dealing with the Taliban, stating that increased insurgency requires the building of effective guiding teams. He examined the usage of the Islamic fatwa, adding that religion must be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. He was followed by Lt. Col Johnny Akl, Assistant Commander of the Lebanese Sea Commando’s, lecturing on “Counter Terrorism; Lebanese Experience.” He stated that counterterrorism policy instruments must address the various direct and indirect political goals of terrorism, bearing in mind that terrorism seeks to create fear and targets society. He completed his presentation by recounting numerous Lebanese counterterrorism victories and emphasized the benefits of combining efforts among nations, both strategically and technically. This session was concluded by Major General Su Deli, Head of the People's Armed Police Force, who delivered a speech on “Special Forces Counter Terrorism in Urban Settings: The Chinese Experience”, where he spoke about the importance the PAPF attaches to collection of information, counter-terrorism case studies, and training methods to building the capability to execute their mission under a changing threat environment.

MESOC 2014 Gold Sponsor is: Oshkosh Defense.
MESOC 2014 Media Partners included: Lead Media Partner: Defense News; Official Media Partner: Nation Shield; Arabic e-Media Partner: Security and Defense Arabia; and Media Partners: Al Defaiya, Al Jundi Journal, Arab Defense Journal, Defence21, Kommando-International Special Operations Magazine (K-ISOM), Special Operations Technology (SOTECH) and The Security Review.

The conference was concluded with enormous success.