Invited guests and Student Cadets from across the West Midlands got the chance to pitch questions to one of the United States’ most famous military commanders in recent years at the University of Birmingham.
General David Petraeus took part in a question and answer session in front of an invited audience of 420 guests – including 200 members of the University’s Cadet forces.
Interviewed by Professor David Dunn, General Petraeus – who commanded US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and later served as Director of the CIA – answered questions on themes such as future trends in warfare, developments in the fight against extremists, the impact of Brexit on Britain’s standing in the world and the global consequences of the Trump Presidency.
Speaking after the dinner event, hosted by the University of Birmingham Defence Studies Dining Club, in the Great Hall on the University’s Edgbaston campus, General Petraeus said: “It is always a pleasure and a privilege to talk to University audiences, particularly those that include students intent on serving their country through military service. Offering thoughts leadership and the changing global situation is something I cherish, and it is a great delight to be back here at the University of Birmingham and to be able to engage with such an informed, engaged and stimulating audience.”
Cadets from the Birmingham University Officers Training Corps, the University of Birmingham Air Squadron, the Birmingham University Royal Naval Unit, and Tauris Squadron on the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme attended the event.
Also in attendance were serving members of the local military – regular and reserve; members of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, and other units. Former students currently at Sandurst attended as did several guests from the US military. The Bishop of Birmingham was also present.
David H Dunn, Professor in International Politics at the University of Birmingham, said: “General Petraeus is the outstanding soldier scholar of his generation and as the mastermind of the surge he was the central military figure in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That fact he is keen to return to the University of Birmingham for a second time to share his thoughts and experiences is an indication of how much he enjoys interacting with our staff, students and other guests.”
General Petraeus was attending for a second time, having visited in 2016. The University of Birmingham Defence Studies Dining Club brings together those interested in contemporary issues of defence and international politics and meets three times a year to hear speakers from the military (UK and allies) government, embassies, journalists and academic. Its audience is drawn from the cadet forces, academic, the media and local community.
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