KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- U.S. Naval War College (NWC) kicked off its 16th Regional Alumni Symposium in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 27.
The three-day event, hosted in partnership with the Royal Malaysian navy (RMN), brings together 75 NWC alumni and regional stakeholders from 14 nations to discuss common challenges in the region.
"This event represents our continued determination to improve our navies' readiness, as the emerging problems of today come in diverse forms that challenge each of our countries and our navies," said Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, NWC president, during his opening remarks.
"We must remain prepared to meet these new problems as they arise," said Harley. "And for this, we must maintain relationships that are valued and nurtured, where trust is a product of confidence and familiarity."
Established in 2005, the goal of the symposia is to leverage the professional linkages among alumni and further the exchange of ideas about how regional nations can overcome challenges together.
The theme of the event is derived from one of the college's core missions, "Strengthening Global Maritime Partnerships."
"It is friendship and cooperation that builds trust and confidence, and enables us to meet global maritime security challenges," added Harley. "It is through our extraordinary dialogue that we are able to meet our objectives."
A wide range of issues will be examined over the course of the event, to include: the Straits of Malacca and Sulu Sea; a strategic overview of Asia; the return of competent adversaries; China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative; the influences of 'Daesch' in the Middle East and Southeast Asia; RMN's '15-to-5' transformation program; Asia's regional counterterrorism strategy and its implications globally; the 'blue economy'; and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Since creating a program for international officers in 1956, NWC now has more than 4,500 international alumni from 137 countries worldwide. A total of 455 of these alumni, or roughly 10 percent, have gone on to become chief of their country's respected navy.
U.S. and international flag officers and diplomats participating in the event include: Harley; Adm. Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman, chief of the RMN and the event co-host; Capt. Humphrey B. Tawake, chief of the Republic of Fiji navy; retired Adm. Nirmal Kumar Verma, former chief of the Indian navy; retired Adm. Tomohisa Takei, former chief of staff of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force; Rear Adm. Chusak Chupaitoon, director of the Royal Thai navy Naval Strategic Studies Center; Rear Adm. Shemal Fernando, chief of staff of the Sri Lanka Civil Defence Force; and several others from around the region.
Nations with alumni attending the event include: Australia, Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and the United States.
"The education and development of our future leaders is deeply rooted in the past and continues to be the highest priority for the war college," said Harley. "As Adm. Arleigh A. Burke said, 'There are many possibilities in operating naval forces to the mutual advantage of the countries concerned.'
"The involvement of senior and intermediate-level students and leaders from our allied nations defines that advantage for the war college."