Blogging MILOPS: Bringing to Readers a Most Unusual Conference

Benjamin Wittes
Monday, April 28, 2014, 8:50 PM
Tuesday morning, Philippines time, finds me in Manila---not with President Obama, but at the U.S.

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Tuesday morning, Philippines time, finds me in Manila---not with President Obama, but at the U.S. Pacific Command's 27th annual MILOPS conference. I normally avoid conferences when I can, and I certainly don't normally look forward to flying around the world and fighting off ferocious jet lag to give a speech. But MILOPS is different from any other conference I go to, and I have come to look forward to it every year. It brings together operational lawyers from all over our military, and it also includes representatives of most of the militaries around the Pacific with whom the United States has any kind of ongoing relationship. It's thus a great forum for understanding regional tensions, as well as giving insight into the incredible range of activities the U.S. military is involved in around the Asia-Pacific region.

Unfortunately, all of the sessions take place on a non-attribution basis. For personal reasons, moreover, I am also only here for two days of the conference. So my ability to write about the conference will be limited. But I hope both to record some sessions for podcasting (with the permission of the participants), to interview participants about their work, and to post some thoughts to the extent I can on the sessions that I watch.

This afternoon, I will be speaking on the end of the AUMF conflict and the future persistence of the war. My speech will immediately follow one by Commander Michael Adams on "National Security Activities Outside of Armed Conflict," a presentation based on a forthcoming paper Commander Adams has written on "Jus Extra Bellum." He and I will be discussing the paper on this week's episode of the Lawfare Podcast. The next two days also have promising-looking discussions of detainee treatment issues, the regulation of private armed contractors at sea, and current territorial disputes in East Asia. I will post and record as I can.

Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.

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