The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) hosted a lunchtime speech by US Marine Corps Commandant General James T. Conway on October 15, 2007 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC.
General Conway’s address, entitled “Beyond Iraq: Lessons Learned and Future Challenges,” was the inaugural event for the CNAS National Security Leaders Forum, which brings senior American leaders to speak to the Washington policy community and press about current critical national security issues.
General Conway illuminated a variety of topics in his speech, from current operations in Iraq to the future strategic environment and the types of capabilities the Marine Corps will need to operate in it. With regard to Iraq, he emphasized that al-Qaeda in Iraq may be crippled but remains a serious threat. He lauded the performance of new equipment, such as the MRAPS, and the morale of Marines performing their duty in difficult circumstances. He asserted that the future will bring a wide range of challenges that will require the Marine Corps to maintain its unique expeditionary capabilities, which he fears are being lost due to the demands of the war in Iraq. There remains a need to continue training for conventional combat as well as irregular warfare, General Conway said. Marines, as well as Army troops, will be called upon to perform a wide variety of tasks and should be prepared for full-spectrum operations, but overspecialization for missions such as advising foreign militaries, should be avoided.