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What to Do: Policy Recommendations for Middle east and africa

Editor’s note: The next president is in for a rough welcome to the Oval Office given the list of immediate crises and slow-burning policy challenges, both foreign and domestic. What should Washington do? Why should the average American care? We’ve set out to clearly define US strategic interests and provide actionable policy solutions to help the new administration build a 2017 agenda that strengthens American leadership abroad while bolstering prosperity at home.

What to Do: Policy Recommendations for 2017 is an ongoing project from AEI. Click here for access to the complete series, which addresses a wide range of issues from rebuilding America’s military to higher education reform to helping people find work.


Event Summary

At AEI Tuesday, Vice Admiral (Ret.) Mark Fox and Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Trask discussed how Iran pursues its foreign policy goals and conducts warfare in the Middle East. Both guests, along with AEI’s Frederick W. Kagan and J. Matthew McInnis, explained how they expect to see Tehran expand its methods in coming years.

The speakers agreed that Iran masters asymmetric warfare, such as support for proxies, and thus will use increased resources to expand these operations. Lt. Gen. Trask, currently vice commander of the US Special Operations Command, highlighted the importance of J. Matthew McInnis’ monograph “The Future of Iran’s Security Policy,” particularly its value to military planners and policymakers who need insight into Iranian strategic capabilities and thinking. Lt. Gen. Trask called the monograph mandatory reading for all planners at the Special Operations Command.
–John Spacapan.

Event Description

Iran is at an inflection point in its foreign and security policies. For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Tehran deployed overt conventional forces to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This is but one example of Tehran’s new thinking as it prepares to majorly shift its strategic posture, taking advantage of a changing Middle East and billions of dollars in new resources after the nuclear deal. AEI Resident Fellow Matthew McInnis’ new monograph, “The Future of Iran’s Security Policy,” provides policymakers with an analytical tool kit to better manage conflict with Tehran and understand and combat the Islamic Republic’s destabilizing agenda in the Middle East.

Join AEI as Lt. Gen. Thomas Trask and retired Vice Adm. Mark Fox mark the monograph’s release with a discussion on the future of Iranian power in the Middle East, the challenge it poses to the US, and how Washington can respond.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

Download the report here.


5:00 PM
Registration and reception

5:30 PM
Panel discussion

Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Trask, US Special Operations Command
Vice Adm. Ret. Mark Fox, US Central Command (former)
J. Matthew McInnis, AEI

Frederick W. Kagan, AEI

6:15 PM

6:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact John Spacapan at [email protected], 202.862.5911.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Vice Adm. Ret. Mark Fox is a corporate vice president of customer affairs at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News shipbuilding division. Named to this position in July 2016, he is responsible for all customer outreach for Newport News’ programs. Vice Adm. Fox graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1978 and became a naval aviator in 1980. He commanded US Naval Forces Central Command/US 5th Fleet, Carrier Strike Group 10 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), Carrier Air Wing 2 aboard USS Constellation (CV 64), and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65). Other command and executive leadership assignments include service as deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy; commander of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center; and deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office, where he was responsible for overseeing all military support to the president. Additionally, he was the first commander of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122, the Navy’s first FA-18E/F Super Hornet squadron, and he served as the aviation programs liaison officer in the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs. Most recently, he served as deputy commander at US Central Command.

Frederick W. Kagan is the Christopher DeMuth Chair and director of the Critical Threats Project at AEI. In 2009, he served in Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of General Stanley McChrystal’s strategic assessment team, and he returned to Afghanistan in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to conduct research for Generals David Petraeus and John Allen. In July 2011, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen awarded him the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor the chairman can present to civilians who do not work for the Department of Defense, for his volunteer service in Afghanistan. He is the coauthor of the report “Defining Success in Afghanistan” (AEI and The Institute for the Study of War, 2010) and the author of the series of reports “Choosing Victory” (AEI, 2007), which recommended and monitored the US military surge in Iraq. His most recent book is “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (AEI Press, 2010, with Thomas Donnelly). Previously an associate professor of military history at West Point, Dr. Kagan is a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard and has written for Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other periodicals.

Matthew McInnis is a resident fellow at AEI, where he focuses on Iran, specifically its intentions, strategic culture, military power, and goals. He also works on US defense and regional security issues in the Persian Gulf (Iran, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula) and on the effectiveness of the US intelligence community. Before joining AEI, Mr. McInnis served as a senior analyst and in other leadership positions for the US Department of Defense. He has a master’s degree in international relations from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and another master’s degree in European studies from New York University. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Eckerd College in Florida.

Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Trask is vice commander of Headquarters US Special Operations Command in Washington, DC. He is responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing actions with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the services, and other government agencies on behalf of the Commander USSOCOM. He entered the Air Force in 1984 as a Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate. He is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours, including 51 combat missions supporting operations in Panama, Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo. He has previously commanded the 20th Special Operations Squadron, 347th Rescue Operations Group, 58th Special Operations Wing, Squadron Officer College, and 23rd Air Force. His staff assignments have included the Joint Staff, Headquarters US Special Operations Command, US Central Command, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, and NATO AIRSOUTH.

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