FORT BENNING, Ga., (Sept. 21, 2016) -- The Maneuver Warfighter Conference ran from Sept. 14-16 in McGinnis-Wickam Hall with this year's theme, Future Maneuver, focusing on near-peer competitors for the U.S. Army.

The three-day conference included briefings, discussions and presentations addressing current and future issues affecting the warfighting capability, training and lethality of the maneuver force.

"We understand after several years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq that many of our near-peers - this isn't just Russia, it includes China, North Korea, Iran and it includes insurgencies worldwide - have watched us for a number of years and they've set about attempting to reconcile some of their shortfalls," said the commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley. "Now in so doing, what that does is it starts to bring us closer together in terms of competitiveness."

Wesley explained that Russia has a significant area access, area denial capability, specifically with their air defense.

"The gap there is we have, over time, redrawn from Europe several years ago," said Wesley. "If their anti-access, area denial capability has been improved, that puts us in a little bit of a dilemma."

Wesley explained that the purpose of the conference is to look at where the United States' near-peers are at and where they have made gains.

"It is a collaborative forum where we are laying out our sense of our near-peers and where they are at and what we might do to accommodate that or reconcile it," said Wesley. "This forum is intended to be a creative environment where we can look at any number of areas where they've improved to see if there is a manner in which we can reconcile those shortfalls."

Wesley added that the conference also allows for Soldiers and senior leaders to receive updated information on the challenges the Army is facing.

"This brings a lot of people current to some of the things we are seeing," Wesley said. "Some of the breakout sessions, that's where you really get some good discussion. The feedback I'm getting is that the topic is on target."

Wesley explained that the vision statement outlined in the MCoE 2022 Campaign Plan fits with the purpose of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference.

"The vision statement talked about several things. One, it said that we have to be the premier training force or institutional training platform. The second thing is it talked about (how) we need to be seen as ... driving conceptual development and material development for the Army," said Wesley.

"We are looking to develop our concept for the future. As we develop this concept and drive it forward and share it with the rest of the Army, the rest of the Army largely shapes their supporting efforts against the maneuver force. We think that this concept will be an example of driving the Army forward toward future warfighting."

In conjunction with the Maneuver Warfighting Conference, industry and government defense contractors displayed combat vehicles, weapon systems and tactical gear and equipment.