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Monday 4 April 2011
European Security Perspectives & ICI Field Study, Senior Course 118. Berlin.
Berlin was the last stop on the European Security Perspectives & ICI Field Study for Senior Course (SC) 118. Course Members (CMs) were welcomed to the Federal Ministry of Defence by Brigadier General Hans-Werner WIERMANN, Deputy Assistant Chief of the Armed Forces Staff, who gave a lecture on "German Security and Defence Policy and Transformation". The General was keen to emphasize the need for closer cooperation between members of the Alliance, as an important priority for successful management of budget constraints; he also discussed the German perspective on the Libyan conflict and, while acknowledging the many difficulties to be addressed, expressed the hope for a positive outcome. The next speaker was Colonel Hartmut RENK, Head of the Central Affairs Division, Joint Operations Staff, who addressed CMs on “The German Commitment to Current Multinational Operations". He illustrated Germany's contributions to operations on three continents, explaining the tasks and troop structure that commitment to each of these operations entails; this included detailed comment on German military activity in Afghanistan, with particular reference to the support provided by the Ministries of Finance, the Interior and Foreign Affairs.
Following a coffee break, both speakers engaged in a discussion with the CMs, during which they answered a wide range of questions. Issues covered included Libya, Germany’s policy on nuclear energy and its importance to the country, the possibility of joining the United Kingdom-France Defence Cooperation Treaty, declining budgets and their impact on armed forces structure, and both German-Russian and NATO-Russian relations.
The SC then moved to the Paul-Löbe-Haus, where they were received by Mr Hans-Ulrich KLOSE, Deputy Chairman of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mr Ernst-Reinhard BECK, a Member of the Parliamentary Defence Committee. A short introductory speech about current German foreign policy was followed by a very frank and open exchange of ideas on a variety of subjects, including NATO operations in Libya, the relations of Germany and of NATO as a whole with Russia, the transformation of the German Armed Forces and the changing priorities of the European Union (EU).
SC 118 ended the day with a visit to the Court of Honour of the German Resistance Memorial Center in the Bendler Block, where Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg and other officers were executed within twenty-four hours of their unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944. Lieutenant General LOESER gave a moving speech about the background to this important event in German history.
On the morning of 1 April, SC118 and NDC officers and personnel were given a guided tour of Berlin entitled “A Divided Berlin”, with visits to the Brandenburg Gate and the legendary “Checkpoint Charlie”. The group then left from Tegel Military Airport, where Brigadier General Peter BRAUNSTEIN, Berlin Garrison Commander, took leave of CMs and wished them a safe journey.
SC 118 is grateful to the German Ministry of Defence and Parliament for their exceptional generosity and for the fine organization which contributed so much to the success of the visit.