Senior Army leaders from across the Indo-Pacific region gathered together for the 11th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC XI), the 43rd Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS XLIII), and the 5th Senior Enlisted Leaders Forum (SELF V), Sept. 9 - 11, 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
This year's conference was co-hosted by the Royal Thai Army and the U.S. Army. The theme for the conference was 'Achieving Sustainable Security: A New Perspective for Indo-Pacific Armies.' Gen. James C. McConville, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, provided the opening remarks during the joint ceremony.
"Welcome to the 2019 Indo-Pacific Army Chief's Conference," said McConville. "This is my first trip overseas as Chief of Staff for the Army and I'm honored to open this event. It's a privilege to welcome senior army leaders and representatives from 27 countries, thank you all for your continued commitment to the security of this vital region."
While McConville spoke on the uniqueness of the cultures represented, he urged everyone to focus on their common goals.
"Each leader here represents their Nations that are so rich in culture, tradition and history, it's important to recognize what makes us all unique," said McConville. "I also urge us to recognize that although we have differences in language, history, culture, and traditions, we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder, united in preserving peace and stability in the region."
During the conference, attendees had an opportunity to watch a cultural demonstration, and hear from the Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, and the keynote speaker, Gen. Boonsrang Niumpradit, previously the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, and now a Thailand senator.
McConville highlighted the significance of the conference, and how it has evolved since its inception.
"Attendance at these forums has grown from nine nations in 1977, to the 27 nations here today," said McConville. "The reason is simple: the nations here see real benefit in gathering to build relationships and exchange ideas to address mutual interests and regional challenges in order to preserve peace and stability in the region."
"This conference is very important because this is in a very important region of the world," McConville continued. "All the chiefs that are here share the same concerns. They want a secure and stable pacific region, and that's what this conference is about; sustainable security in the region so that trade and peace can continue."
During the conference, attendees split up into groups, based upon the different conferences, seminars, forums, and bilateral engagements scheduled for that day.
The IPACC portion of the conference is a biennial event that brings together Army Chiefs from across the region to participate in open dialogue with their Indo-Pacific counterparts on a wide range of topics affecting the region, and provides a venue where Army Chiefs can meet face to face; fostering military-to-military cooperation on topics such as security cooperation and regional stability.
Over the course of IPACC, senior army leaders engaged in discussions, participate in plenary sessions, and heard from guest speakers; all with the goal of enhancing relationships, promoting peace and stability, and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.
This year's IPACC/IPAMS/SELF conference saw the gathering of Army chiefs from 27 countries across the Pacific. This is the largest gathering of senior Army leaders and security officials in the region; enhancing alliances and partnerships to more effectively respond to crises or contingencies
This year marks the first IPACC that incorporates the Indo-Pacific name change. The purpose of the name change is to provide recognition of the interconnectivity of the Indian Pacific Oceans. The new name change provides a more accurate reflection of U.S. Army Pacific's command's focus.
The next IPACC is scheduled to take place in 2021.