HONOLULU –More than 75 people representing 26 countries gathered to discuss Asia-Pacific security here this week. The “Perspectives on Asia-Pacific Security for the 21st Century” conference was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village September 12-13. The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies hosted the conference.Special guests attending conference-related events included: Hawaii’s Governor Linda Lingle; New Zealand’s secretary of defence, Mr. Graham Fortune; and former U.S. Pacific commander, retired Admiral Thomas Fargo, who was a keynote speaker.
Topics discussed included: the development of a Regional Rapid Response Experts Cooperation Group, Terrorism and the Internet, Neutralizing Transnational Threats, and Promoting Regional Security Cooperation through Multilateral Dialogue in South Asia .
This month APCSS also celebrates its 10th anniversary. The Center, which is focused on executive education, recently graduated its 2,000th Fellow. APCSS alumni include both military and civilian leaders from throughout the region. Alumni include ambassadors, ministers of defense, and many current and future leaders.
Retired Army Lieutenant General Ed Smith, APCSS director, briefed the group on the way ahead for the Center.
“We try to be more than relevant,” said Smith. “We create opportunities for growth in leaders important to the future of our region, growth in security-issue knowledge, in related leader action skill sets required, and in networks of professional practitioners that will inevitably prove essential, not just useful, to dealing with security challenges we foresee and several we don’t.”
In addition to the Center’s current resident programs, APCSS will broaden its outreach into the region. The Center plans to host conferences and training opportunities in various subregions. Alumni will play a larger role in setting up these programs and providing feedback to the Center on regional requirements to enhance current courses. APCSS is also looking at a greater collaboration in the region between faculty members and other academic institutes and think tanks as well as the other regional centers.
New Zealand ‘s Secretary of Defense, Graham Fortune, participated on a panel discussion that assessed the history and development of security cooperation in the region. According to Fortune, no country is immune to terrorism. The best response to the regional security vulnerabilities is interdependence, mutual support, information sharing, and defensive systems.” He quoted US Ambassador Robert Fitts who recently said, “doing it along is doing it wrong.”
In addition to the conference, APCSS held an open house to welcome alumni, conference attendees and friends of the Center. Attendees viewed displays from throughout the Asia-Pacific Region including a cooking demonstration from Sri Lanka and food from various countries. They also toured APCSS spaces including the IT Lab and Library.
During this time APCSS took the opportunity to hold focus group sessions with a number of alumni. The group discussed how attending APCSS has made a difference personally and professionally to the Alumni and regional requirements to update future courses.
Perspectives on Asia-Pacific Security for the 21st Century” is the 102nd conference hosted by APCSS. Each year, the Center hosts 6-12 conferences focused on regional issues and challenges.