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Milley Begins Fact-Finding Trip to Middle East, Central Asia

Nov. 24, 2019 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived at Amman, Jordan, today to begin a trip to the Middle East and Central Asia.

On his way to Jordan, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley stopped in Israel to meet his counterpart, Israeli Army Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. After the visit, he made the short flight here and met with King Abdallah II – who is the commander-in-chief of the Jordanian military. 

Milley was hosted by Jordanian Army Maj. Gen. Yousef Huneiti, Jordan's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Two uniformed officers speak with service members standing in a line.
Milley Meeting
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stands with Israeli Army Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, chief of the Israeli General Staff, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 24, 2019.
Photo By: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191124-D-HD608-015

Milley will meet with military and civilian leaders in the region and will visit with U.S. troops.

''This is an opportunity for the chairman to meet face-to-face with military leaders in the theater to discuss the strategic situation and reaffirm our commitment to the region,'' said Air Force Col. DeDe S. Halfhill, the special assistant to the chairman for public affairs. ''It also affords him a chance to meet with U.S. service members to see how they are doing, and find out their concerns and thank them for all they are doing to keep America safe.''

It is Milley's first trip to the region since becoming chairman last month. He has deployed to the region many times in his 40-year career and visited often in his previous job as Army chief of staff.

Two men in service uniforms shake hands.
Israel Visit
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shakes hands with Israeli Army Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, chief of the Israeli General Staff, at The Kirya in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 24, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191124-D-PB383-001

The situation in the region is complicated, to say the least. Just since Milley took office, Turkey moved into a band of Northern Syria 30 kilometers wide. The U.S. redeployed forces area to protect Syrian oil fields from exploitation by Islamic State adherents. 

In the Persian Gulf, Iran moved beyond mining oil tankers and shooting down a U.S. remotely piloted vehicle, to attacking a crucial oil terminal in Saudi Arabia. The United States is sending troops and military capabilities to assure Persian Gulf allies and deter Iran from further attacks.

The United States is working to train and advise Iraqi defense forces and Syrian Democratic Forces. U.S. and coalition personnel are also working with Afghan security forces. There are between 50,000 and 60,000 U.S. service members serving in the U.S. Central Command.