A senior U.S. military leader told Arab Americans in Dearborn on Monday that the U.S. armed forces want to include more of them in the planning decisions.

“It’s very important that we involve Arab Americans,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Holmes, deputy director of operations with the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). “Arab Americans play a huge role today, and play a very important role in where we have got to go.”

Holmes spent three hours with Arab-American leaders in closed meetings as part of a visit to metro Detroit to tell the public about U. S. efforts in the Middle East and Central Asia.

He visited the Dearborn office of the Arab American News and then met with about 10 Arab-American leaders in a discussion organized by Osama Siblani, publisher of the newspaper and president of the Arab-American Political Action Committee.

Over the years, the Pentagon has recruited Arab Americans to work as translators in the Middle East. But during his discussions, Holmes said he wanted to work with Arab Americans beyond that role, according to Siblani and others who were there.

“He was really reaching out,” said Siblani. “It reflects a new, positive attitude of the U.S. armed forces.”

Other leaders at the meeting included Abed Hammoud, president of the Congress of Arab American Organizations, and Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Holmes met separately with Nasser Beydoun, head of the Dearborn-based American-Arab Chamber of Commerce.

“It was the type of dialogue we like to see,” Hamad said.

During his talks, the general stressed the importance of political and diplomatic solutions, rather than just military ones, as key to success.


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