February 8, 2021
9:00 am - 10:15 am



Transcript available here

The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to make available to the public a keynote address by Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which will kick off the first MEI-CENTCOM Annual Conference. This closed conference will address the key challenges and opportunities for the Biden administration in the Middle East through a series of high-level conversations among experts and practitioners from the United States and the region. MEI President Paul Salem will provide opening remarks and introductions.

In this pivotal moment of a new U.S. administration, amid major changes in the region including the signing of the Abraham Accords and the incorporation of Israel into CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, Gen. McKenzie will join MEI Senior Vice President Amb. (ret.) Gerald Feierstein in conversation to address these key issues and build on his June 2020 discussion with MEI President Paul Salem on CENTCOM’s approach to a changing Middle East.

This virtual event will be broadcast live on this web page and via MEI’s YouTube channel. No registration is required.

Biography: Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.

General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr. is the Commander of United States Central Command. He has commanded at the platoon, company, battalion, Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and component levels. As a LtCol, he commanded First Battalion, Sixth Marines. As the Commanding Officer of the 22d MEU (SOC), he led the MEU on combat deployments to Afghanistan in 2004 and Iraq in 2005-06. In 2006-07 he served as the Military Secretary to the 33rd and 34th Commandants of the Marine Corps. In July 2007, upon promotion to BGen, he served on the Joint Staff as a Deputy Director of Operations within the National Military Command Center. In June 2008, he was selected by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be the Director of the Chairman's New Administration Transition Team (CNATT). In this capacity, he coordinated the efforts of the Joint Staff and the combatant commands in preparing for and executing a wartime transition of administrations.

In June 2009, he reported to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan to serve as the Deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) for Stability. Upon his return from Afghanistan, in July 2010 he was assigned as the Director, Strategy, Plans, and Policy (J-5) for the U.S. Central Command. In August 2012, he reported to Headquarters Marine Corps to serve as the Marine Corps Representative to the Quadrennial Defense Review. In June 2014, he was promoted to LtGen and assumed command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command. In October 2015, he was assigned to the Joint Staff to serve as the Director, J-5, Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff. In July 2017, he was named the Director, Joint Staff. Gen McKenzie was promoted to his current rank and assumed command of U.S. Central Command in March 2019.