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Thursday 3 May 2012
Senior Course 120 Field Study II - Washington DC
NATO Defense College (NDC) Senior Course 120 (SC 120) began its Transatlantic Field Study on April 30. The interesting program in the US capital city enabled Course Members to visit Capitol Hill, the White House, the Pentagon, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), as well as Arlington National Cemetery and some of the nation’s most treasured monuments. The US Marine Corps also hosted SC 120 at the USMC Barracks Washington, where the group received a gracious and warm welcome.
On Tuesday, 1 May, the NDC delegation visited Capitol Hill, where Course Members received an informative briefing from the Senate Historian Dr Don RITCHIE. He provided a comprehensive historical overview of the US Congress and the relations between its two houses, the House of Representatives and the US Senate. This gave participants a greater understanding of the US legislature and provided a useful basis for the ensuing discussions.
The next series of briefings provided the audience with a full spectrum of political perspectives, from both houses of Congress. First to brief was Mr. Christopher GRIFFIN, Military Legislative Assistant (MLA) to Senator Lieberman. He was followed by Mr. Chaz ZIEGLER, MLA to Senator Barraso, and Mr Bob SIMMONS, Staff Director for the House Armed Services Committee. These staffers provided valuable insights into the broad portfolio of security issues they deal with in support to their Senators, offering interesting perspectives on issues concerning NATO, US foreign policy, and the impacts of the potential financial cuts (sequestration) on US defense programs and strategy.
After the congressional briefings, the group visited the White House compound. NDC Course Members, faculty and staff attended informative briefings by members of the Obama administration’s national security staff. The briefers, assigned to the National Security Council, were Mr Jeff Hayes (USA), Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Colonel Tom Goffus (USAF), Director for Eastern and Strategic European Affairs.
To finish this long and productive day, the group also attended a reception ? hosted by USMC Major General Mark BRILAKIS - at the “8th and I” Marine Corps Barracks Washington, where they met several general officers, defence attachés and Anciens of the College.
On Wednesday, 2 May, the group visited the Pentagon for a guided tour, and then moved to nearby Henderson Hall for several US Joint Staff briefings. Lieutenant General Robert NELLER, Director for Operations (J-3) on the Joint Staff, welcomed the NDC delegation. He was followed by the Director for Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5), Lieutenant General Terry WOLFF. The two speakers provided very interesting overviews of joint military operations and US strategic direction respectively, illustrating the top issues facing the Pentagon. They also engaged Course Members in informative discussion periods.
The next briefing was delivered by Colonel Steve PITT, Chief of the Afghanistan Division in the Joint Staff Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell. Colonel PITT addressed US and ISAF Operations in Afghanistan, providing SC 120 with a thorough overview of ongoing operations and offering his assessments for the road ahead in Afghanistan. Course Members afterwards took full advantage of a question-and-answer period with the speaker.
To finish this instructive session the NDC group visited the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial and moved to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), where they were welcomed by the USIP Academy Provost, Ms. Pamela AALL.
Ambassador Tina KAIDANOW, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, covered numerous NATO-related issues. She focussed her remarks on the upcoming NATO Summit priorities and US foreign policy, before answering a broad range of questions from SC 120.
The program continued with a panel on Non-proliferation and Arms Control by USIP experts Bruce MACDONALD, Mike LEKSON and Brian ROSE, followed by a discussion period.
This particularly intense day's activities then concluded with a brief tour of the USIP facilities.
More about the Field Study:
The Transatlantic Link Field Study