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Thursday 30 September 2010
SC 117 Field Study, Berlin
Berlin- The Senior Course 117 visited the Federal Republic of Germany, 25-28 September 2010, gaining valuable German perspectives as part of the field study on European security. The Course was greeted by Brigadier General Peter BRAUNSTEIN, Commander of the Berlin Garrison Command, who enabled a wonderful reception and informed course members about the Garrison Command. Lieutenant General Wolf-Dieter LOESER, Commandant of the NATO Defense College, thanked him and his staff, and set the context for the visit by highlighting the historical importance of Berlin to Germany, Europe, and the Alliance.
The Course was then treated to an informative bus tour of the city, negotiating rainy weather and preparations for the Berlin marathon to absorb the city’s vast history and significance. The Course also visited the historical city of Potsdam, touring the notable Cecilienhof Palace and other famous sites near the city center.
On Monday, the course members visited the Federal Ministry of Defense, where they were welcomed by Brigadier General Hans-Werner WIERMANN, Assistant Deputy Chief for Military Policy and Arms Control on the Armed Forces Staff. Setting the stage for subsequent briefings, Brigadier General WIERMANN spoke to course members about German security policy from the end of the German Reich to present, highlighting the foundational pillars of current security policy. He also spoke about the importance of NATO's new strategic concept and the importance of European integration to the security of Germany and its Allies.
He was followed by Brigadier General Dieter WARNECKE, Deputy Director, Joint Operations Staff, who provided an overview of current German commitments to multinational operations, such as ISAF, maritime operations, and operations in support of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), from the Balkans to Africa. Both generals later fielded numerous questions from the course members of SC 117, during an extensive discussion period that covered salient issues such as NATO relations with Russia and other partners, lessons learned from Afghanistan, NATO-EU cooperation, and the importance of the comprehensive, or networked, approach to security.
The Course also visited the historic Bendlerblock, where Lieutenant General LOESER provided course members of SC 117 with a personal reflection about the significance of the German Resistance during World War II, speaking near the memorial to the Resistance, placed near the site where, on the evening of July, 20, 1944, Colonel Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg and his three closest conspirators were executed.
The next stage of the visit took the Course to the German Parliament, commencing with a discussion with Mr. Hans-Ulrich KLOSE, member of the German Bundestag and Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. After speaking at length about German foreign policy, Mr. KLOSE graciously answered numerous questions from the course members of SC 117, discussing issues ranging from level of ambition and public opinion, to the EU, ISAF and NATO's new strategic concept. Following the constructive debate, the Course conducted a guided tour of the Reichstag, gaining valuable perspectives of both historical and contemporary significance.
The Senior Course 117 also enjoyed a privileged invitation to a reception and Grand Tattoo ceremony, in honour of General Karl-Heinz LATHER, on the occasion of his retirement. The extraordinary event was hosted by Dr. Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu GUTTENBERG, the Federal Minister of Defense, and attended by hundreds of the general's friends, family members, and colleagues. The tradition, significance and splendor of the night-time tattoo clearly made for one of the most memorable events of the entire field study.
On 28 September, the SC 117 paid visit to the Federal College for Security Studies, adding academic perspectives to the action-packed visit to the Federal Republic of Germany. Lieutenant General (ret.) Kersten LAHL, the President of the College for Security Studies, provided an overview of how the College facilitates dialogue on German security policy, and introduced a series of informative briefings and discussions which followed.
The next speaker was Professor Carlo MASALA, a scholar who is well-known at the NATO Defense College, who is currently a professor at the University of the Bundeswehr, in Munich. His remarks were followed by three other presentations, provided as opening remarks by a panel of distinguished visitors. Professor MASALA was joined on the panel by Dr. Christian BUCK (TF Afghanistan and Pakistan, Federal Foreign Office), Lieutenant Colonel (GS) Peter KÜPPER (Joint Operations Staff, Federal Ministry of Defense), and Mr. Nils WARNER (Division 404, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation). The highly-informative discussion was moderated by Dr. Thomas KURZ, the Vice President of the Federal College for Security Studies, and allowed course members the opportunity to engage the panel of experts on a broad range of security issues facing Germany and the Alliance.
Lieutenant General LOESER thanked General LAHL and the Federal College for Security Studies for hosting the Senior Course 117, and summarized many of the central issues raised during the visit in his concluding remarks for this leg of the European Security field study. The Commandant highlighted the importance of education and the role played by the NDC, as course members learn about differing cultures, mindsets, and national perspectives. He added that the human interoperability the NDC seeks to instill is central to generating cooperation and addressing the challenges of the future.
The next stage of the European Field Study takes the Course to Copenhagen and Sarajevo, before returning home to Rome on Friday, 1 October.