University of South Florida

Global and National Security Institute


Opening scene for the first ever GNSI Tampa Summit

GNSI Tampa Summit March 2023 Recap

Official Summit Report from GNSI Tampa Summit March 2023

Click here to read the official Summit Report from the GNSI Tampa Summit: The Current Rise of the Great Powers - The Struggle for Influence in the Middle East, Central and South Asia.


On March 7-9, the first ever GNSI Tampa Summit convened at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The GNSI Tampa Summit is a new platform created by the Global and National Security Institute to bring together the best strategists, analysts, academics and policy influencers. The signature event of the GNSI Tampa Summit is the Great Power Competition Conference – a semi annual series of conferences focused on the strategic competition between the United States, Russia and China, specifically in the Central Region, and the many varied issues that challenge U.S. and our allies.  

The Central Region is the Area of Responsibility (AOR) for the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), headquartered on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The region consists of 21 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, as well as Central and South Asia. 

The first Summit also featured the 2023 U.S. Central Command Central and South Asia Directors of Military Intelligence Conference, which annually brings together members of leadership from USCENTCOM with intelligence leaders from some of the countries in the Central Region.

That DMI Conference kicked off the Summit on March 7, as high-ranking intelligence leaders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were in attendance.

Flags of nations represented at conference

Rear Admiral Nicholas Homan, Director of Intelligence at USCENTCOM, opened and closed the DMI conference, which focused almost exclusively on Russia’s role and future activities in the AOR. GNSI Executive Director and former commander of USCENTCOM, General (Ret) Frank McKenzie, spoke briefly on the importance of the Central Region and cautioned against deemphasizing the region in relation to other priorities in the USA’s overall global strategies. The keynote address was given by Brigadier General (Ret) Peter Zwack, former senior defense official/attaché in Moscow and now a Global Fellow at the Keenan Institute.

A global intelligence address was delivered by Gregory Ryckman, Deputy Director for Global Integration at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Two discussion panels examined critical intelligence issues in the region, from both the perspective of the United States as well as the countries located in the region:

Panel 1: The War in Ukraine -  Russian Hybrid Warfare, Lessons Learned and the Future of the Russian Way of War
Panel 2: Strategic Competition – Russia’s Future Strategy and Friction Points

Each of the foreign delegates also spoke at the conference, presenting their ideas and strategies, while sharing their experiences with the growing influence of Russia in their countries.

This was the first year that USCENTCOM had coordinated the annual DMI Conference with the GPC Conference and the GNSI Tampa Summit.

GNSI Senior Director, Jim Cardoso, said that putting the two events together made a lot of sense and it was a big success for both sides: 
“It was a natural fit to bring together the Great Power Competition conference with the DMI conference, under the umbrella of the GNSI Tampa Summit series. GNSI’s vision is to bring together coordinated networks to address complex and emerging issues. GPC’s ability to convene the finest thinkers and practitioners from academia, government, and industry, combined with DMI’s connection to key U.S. partners in the Central and South Asia region, created an unmatched forum that yielded actionable contributions to today’s national security solutions.”


The second day of the GNSI Tampa Summit kicked off its Signature Event – the 7th Great Power Competition Conference: The Current Rise of the Great Powers – The Struggle for Influence in the Middle East, Central and South Asia. GPC7 focused primarily on the long campaign of influence being executed by China in the Central Region. You can find the full video for Day 1 here.

Conference host and founder, Dr. Adib Farhadi, Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at USF, welcomed a large audience in the Marshall Center’s Oval Theater, as well as a large contingent of virtual attendees.

Florida Senator Rick Scott kicked off the day’s event with video remarks, noting that the global rise of China’s influence is a major concern for the U.S. Congress and applauded the conference for bringing together so many people from different industries to focus on a critical issue of national and global importance.

Following that, University of South Florida President, Rhea Law, delighted in the growth of the GPC Conference and the addition of GNSI.
Quote from USF President Rhea Law

Law’s full remarks here.

Acting Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA), David Lamm delivered a valuable perspective, based upon research NESA has done, noting that the majority of Gulf States in the Central Region believe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was justified. But the biggest threat in the Region, Lamm said is China.

NESA Acting Director, David Lamm, quote

Lamm's full remarks here.

The keynote address for Day 1 belonged to the Executive Director of the Global and National Security Institute (GNSI), General (Ret) Frank McKenzie. He took over duties to lead GNSI last June, after retiring earlier in the year following a 42 year career in the United State Marine Corps.

McKenzie updated the audience on the progress of GNSI, noting:

• Establishment of the GNSI Tampa Summit
• Creating the first Board of Advisors for GNSI, including:

Chairman: Rick Knop, leading investment banker and investor in the government/defense industry
Frank Cilluffo, Director of Auburn University’s McCrary Institute for Cyber & Critical Infrastructure Security
Chris Galvin, Co-Founder and Chairman of Gore Ceek Asset Management, LLC and former Chairman and CEO of Motorola
General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret), president of Jones Group International, former National Security Advisor to President Obama and former Commander, USEUCOM and Supreme Allied Commander
Cathy Lanier, Senior VP of Security for the National Football League and former Chief of Police in Washington, D.C.
Kirstjen Nielsen, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President Trump and his former White House Deputy Chief of Staff
 • Lieutenant General Vince Stewart, USMC (Ret), founder and CEO of Stewart Global Solutions and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
Chip Walter, Manager Director of Marlinspike Disruptive Technology Fund 1 and 30 year veteran of the U.S. Navy and federal government

• Creation of a new event series, GNSI Policy Dialogues, which will focus on vital, but non-traditional global and national security threats and issues; the first event will be “Hunger as a Weapon” on May 24
• Laying the foundation for the GNSI Education Programs, including a 1-year Masters program and a strategic focus on Professional Military Education

McKenzie reiterated something he had said in the previous conference in December: the security threats facing the U.S. right now are the most the dangerous he’s seen in his lifetime. He also said that he is convinced that a tactical nuclear weapon could be used in the next major war:
Quote from GNSI Executive Director, General (Ret) Frank McKenzie
The former commander of USCENTCOM also took time for Q&A's.  McKenzie's full remarks here.

The morning session concluded with the Summit's first discussion panel: Understanding China’s Grand Strategy.
Full panel discussion here.

Todd Veazie, Moderator:  Director of Strategic Multilayer Assessment, Joint Staff, Pentagon  (full remarks)
Major General Kevin Leahy, Commander U.S. Special Operations Command Central (full remarks)
Dr. Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (full remarks)
Dan Blumenthal, Director of Asia Studies, American Enterprise Institute (full remarks)
Dr. June Teufel Dreyer, Professor of Political Science, University of Miami (full remarks)

The afternoon session for Day 1 began with an engaging speech from Lieutenant General Dimitri Henry, Director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff (J2). He spoke frequently about a newly published intelligence document called the “Joint Concept for Competing.” Henry deemed China’s long-term strategy to be one of indirect competition, not direct confrontation:
Quote from Lt. General Dimitri Henry
Henry's full remarks here.

The afternoon session concluded with another panel discussion, this one focused heavily on China’s effort to gain influence , as Lt. General Henry warned, without fighting: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Geoeconomics and Geopolitical Implications for U.S. National Security.  Full panel discussion here. 

• Quinton DuBose, Moderator: Strategic Competition Program, J2, U.S. Central Command (full remarks here)
Major General Sean Salene, Director, Strategy, Plans and Policy, U.S. Central Command (full remarks here)
Dr. Dawn Murphy, Professor of International Security Studies, National War College (full remarks here)
Grant Rumley, Goldberger Fellow with the Washington Institute's Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation Program on Great Power Competition and the Middle East (full remarks here)
Dr. Lawrence Reardon, Professor of Political Science, University of New Hampshire (full remarks here)


Day 2 of GPC7 began with opening remarks from two local Florida Congresswomen, Kathy Castor, representing District 14, and Laurel Lee, representing District 15. Both Representatives spoke of their support for the Summit and GPC7, as well as their focus on their work in Washington, D.C. in combatting the rise of Chinese national and global influence. You can find the full video for Day 3 here.

Dr. Eric Eisenberg, newly named Senior Vice President for University Community Partnerships at USF, praised Castor and Lee, for setting aside potential political differences to support something of mutual importance and benefit. Eisenberg also noted that in his new role, he has an opportunity to continue to build bridges between USF and the communities it serves.
Quote from Dr. Eric Eisenberg
Eisenberg's full remarks here.

Dr. Eisenberg’s opening remarks were followed by the day’s Plenary Speaker, Major General David Doyle, Chief of Staff at USCENTCOM, who said China’s incremental malign and military influence will destabilize the region if we allow it. He added that such activities happen every day in the region and many of China’s partners live to regret the decision to ally themselves with Beijing.
Quote from Major General David Doyle
General Doyles' full remarks here.

The morning session concluded with the third panel discussion of the conference: China’s Shaping of International Norms and Regional Security Environment. Full panel discussion here.

Matthew McInnis, Moderator, Senior Fellow, Institute for the Study of War (full remarks here)
Daniel Tobin, Deputy Director of China Studies, National Intelligence University (full remarks here)
Emily de la Bruyere, Senior Fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (full remarks here)
Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (full remarks here)
Peter Mattis, Special Competitive Studies Project, U.S. Naval Institute (full remarks here)

Dr. Randy Larsen, Associate Dean of Research and Scholarship at USF, finished off the morning by speaking to the complexity of the problems the conference was trying to examine and cut a path forward as China continues to expand its influence:
Quote from Dr. Randy Larsen
Larsen's full remarks here.

The day and conference wrapped up with three afternoon Breakout Sessions. Two were by invitation only but an explosive session was open to the public: TikTok is Now #1 on the U.S. Most Wanted List: Why the Push is on to Ban China’s Most Dangerous Startup from Government, Military and Academic Devices. Tom Waters, Assistant Director of Start Ups with USF Research and Innovation, presented chilling evidence of what TikTok (amongst others) is doing with data from its hundreds of millions of users:
Quote from Tom Waters, Session Lead

Watch the breakout session.

SAVE THE DATES: Our next event, the first of our Policy Dialogues series, will take place on May 24 at the Patel Center for Global Solutions at USF. “Hunger Is A Weapon” will explore how food insecurity and hunger are used by state and non-state entities as weapons of control, manipulation and suppression. Global hunger is a generator of social, economic and political instability and a threat to global and national security. 

The next GNSI Tampa Summit is scheduled to take place at the Marshall Center on September 27-29. The topic for the 8th GPC Conference will be: UAV’s and the Path Forward. Check the GNSI website for updates.

Return to article listing

About GNSI News

The GNSI Newsroom is dedicated to highlighting news and ideas from the world of global and national security, as well as stories that focus on the Global and National Security Institute at USF. We want to emphasize the many ways GNSI leads the university's strategic focus on global and national security.