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Military leaders from more than 100 countries meet

September 21, 2018

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — Senior military representatives from more than 100 countries met in Rhode Island this week to talk about ways to cooperate and address shared challenges.

Adm. John Richardson, the U.S. chief of naval operations, hosted the 23rd International Seapower Symposium at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport. It convened Wednesday and concluded Friday.

About 80 heads of navies and 20 heads of Coast Guards attended. They discussed evolving maritime strategy and ways to innovate and make the best use of limited resources, among other topics.

Several navy chiefs described the meeting as a rare opportunity to meet other heads of navies and exchange ideas. The theme was security, order and prosperity.

“We end up observing that our problems are not unique,” Brazilian Adm. Eduardo Bacellar Leal Ferreira said.

According to the war college, it’s the only forum in the world that brings together so many heads of navies. Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, the commander of the Chinese navy, was a panelist.

Richardson talked to the group about the importance of international cooperation. He said they share a “desire to sail together in support of our fellow citizens.”

Richardson, who also hosted the last symposium in 2016, recently went to Brazil to talk to Ferreira about re-energizing their partnership.

“Those types of deals, those types of arrangements, they begin in the conversations here and they result in tangible things,” he said.

French Adm. Christophe Prazuck said it’s like the Olympic Games for the maritime domain, with navies of all sizes from across the globe participating. He said it would normally take him months to go around the world and meet so many chiefs of navies.

Australian Vice Adm. Michael Noonan said he got ideas about recruiting and retaining personnel by talking with the German Navy chief. U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Karl Schultz spoke with the service’s partners in the Arctic as he participated in about a dozen bilateral meetings.

Schultz said that as the world becomes increasingly complex, none of the navies or Coast Guards likely have everything they need to address it.

“That’ll remain a challenging area,” he said. “And working together, I think, is the best way.”

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