CHICAGO: The newly appointed commander of US military forces in southwest Asia on Sunday praised Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the support they provided in the fight against Daesh, Iran, and international terrorism.
Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, commander of the Combined Forces Air Component and US Central Command, Southwest Asia, also said the US continued to maintain its military readiness and strength in the wake of providing more than $5.3 billion in military support to defend Ukraine.
The southwest Asia region includes most of the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Africa, and Grynkewich emphasized that the US worked in close cooperation with all of its southwest Asia partners in deterring Iran, maintaining regional security, and countering violent extremists.
“I just returned from Saudi Arabia where I met with Lt. General Turki (bin Bandar Al Saud), the air chief. I spent some time at our base just outside of Riyadh. We looked at ways we could enhance our cooperation across the board with shared exercises, shared intelligence, shared information,” he told a media briefing.
“The Kingdom remains one of our most important regional partners. So, General Turki and I agreed we will continue to push the bounds of the cooperation that we have in the defense of the Kingdom and the defense of US forces that operate here in the region.”
Grynkewich also said the US relationship with Saudi Arabia was “a really solid relationship” with very clear guidance and support from President Joe Biden.
“We are committed to this partnership. We are committed to regional stability, whether that means deterring Iran, countering violent extremist organizations, or ensuring that we can compete with our competitors on a global scale.
“This area is critical to global security, and I could not be more proud to be serving here alongside the other men and women from so many different nations in doing what small bit we can to contribute to that.”
Grynkewich responded to a question from Arab News about the impact of US military support of Ukraine on all of the military regions, including southwest Asia, saying it had not reduced US resources in the region or security efforts.
“We have adequate forces in the region to defend ourselves as required. There has been an intentional decision to maintain those sufficient forces here.
“That's because we know again that threats from violent extremists, and the destabilizing activity we see from Iran, and the need to continue to work with our partners in the region doesn't go away just because there is something else going on or something very important going on in another area. We have sufficient forces here for all the tasks we have been given. The overall posture has not been affected by things going on elsewhere, just because the entire United States government recognizes the importance of the region.”
Grynkewich said recent US airstrikes in Syria, following rocket attacks that injured several US soldiers, were “disconnected” from other events, including Israel's recent strike against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces in Syria or the continuing negotiations with Iran over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in Vienna.
“We of course maintain a tight relationship with all of our partners in the region. The actions that CENTCOM and AFCENT took for self-defense are entirely disconnected from any other actors, whether it be the Israelis or anyone else, and purely based on self-defense. We are certainly aware of the reports that you are referring to but no connection between those and the actions we took.”
Grynkewich added that the US would respond to any violence targeting US forces and the forces of allies at a time “of our choosing.”