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Center Opens for Near East-South Asia Studies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2000 – The new Near East-South Asia Center for Strategic Studies will open its doors in 2001, Pentagon officials announced.

The center, part of the National Defense University here, will provide a forum for defense leaders from 20 countries stretching from Morocco to Bangladesh, said Alina Romanowski, the newly appointed director of the center.

The center had an inaugural event in November when senior civilian and military officials from 18 countries of the region met at the university. The NESA Center is one of five DoD regional security centers dedicated to promoting stability and fostering communications between militaries in different regions.

The other four centers are the George Marshall Center in Germany; the Asia Pacific Center in Hawaii; the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, both also at the National Defense University.

“DoD's five centers really foster the education of the world's military officers and civilian national security officials,” Romanowski said during a Pentagon briefing. “These centers are neither war colleges nor forums for conflict resolution, but really they're more academic institutions staffed by international teams of national security experts, with courses that are tailored to the unique needs of each region on subjects such as defense decision-making, civil-military relations and budget planning.”

The centers help area militaries to build bridges with neighbors they may be seeing only down a gun barrel today.

“The NESA Center, as well as the Asia Pacific Center, are among the few venues where senior Pakistani and senior Indian military officers can come together, and have come together, in a neutral setting,” Romanowski said. “In fact, in November we had Arab and Israeli officers come together to begin to demystify the myths and alter perceptions about regional security and regional ideas.”

The NESA Center covers an area that spans three U.S. unified commands -- European Command, Pacific Command and Central Command. Representatives from the three commands will help the center generate the course content.

The center will offer three-week executive seminars for mid- to upper-level military and civilian defense officials; a one-week senior executive seminar for senior military and civilian officials; and regional and sub- regional conferences in the United States and in the region. The only countries from the area excluded are Libya, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

The center will also have U.S. attendees as well as participants from countries with regional interests, such as Britain, France, Japan, Russia, China and Turkey. “We will to the extent that we can make sure those countries are also included in the academic program and activities," Romanowski said.

The 20 countries supported by the center are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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