Graduation for Senior Course 131
The NATO Defense College today celebrated Senior Course 131’s graduation, marking the end of the 5-month course for the group of 67 high-ranking military and senior civilian participants, from 31 countries across the Atlantic Alliance and Partner countries.
General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, was guest of honour; his presence at the ceremony was a source of inspiration for the newly graduated Course Members, as they left the NDC to accept greater professional responsibilities in the future. Also attending the ceremony were a number of Ambassadors, Defence Attachés and high-ranking Italian military authorities, as well as NDC staff and the families of Course Members.
LtGen Chris Whitecross, NDC Commandant, gave an introductory address: she congratulated Course Members on their considerable achievement, highlighting the importance of the Senior Course in delivering high-level, strategic education on behalf of the Alliance. In particular, LtGen Whitecross underlined: “I am confident that each of you has grown from this experience, and will bring back to your nations or next international posts, additional competences and skills that will better equip you to manage diversity in a multinational environment, with a better cultural awareness and an enhanced ability to communicate and to negotiate.”
In taking the floor for the Graduation Address, General Pavel stated: “NATO is based on three pillars: adaptation, coherence and cohesion”. In particular, General Pavel underlined the many, equally important ways in which cohesion is a sine qua non to the Alliance. At the same time, he spoke of the pragmatic requirements recently highlighted by the NATO Secretary General: “cash, capabilities, contribution”. In concluding, General Pavel focused on the challenges facing NATO and the importance of being able to address them from a position of strength as part of a broader, values-based community: “Challenges require responses from NATO, but also the UN, the EU and other actors willing to save the values we all stand for. They are the primary source of our strength.”
A highlight in the ceremony was the announcement by the Dean of the College, BrigGen (ret) František Mičánek, of the winner of the Eisenhower Prize for Best Individual Paper, awarded to LtCol Tobias Aust (DEU A).
The 67 Course Members filed down the steps of the Maynard-Thorn Auditorium for the last time, saluting their respective national flags and NDC Flag Officers before receiving their graduation diploma from Gen Pavel and LtGen Whitecross.
It has been a successful five months for the Course Members of SC 131. Throughout, they have had the unrivalled opportunity to deepen their knowledge of international affairs and related security challenges, as well as to explore a variety of national foreign policy perspectives during three Field Studies to European, Transatlantic and Partner countries and institutions. This broad spectrum of opportunities afforded Course Members a better understanding of the challenges and emerging threats faced by NATO, as well as the policy instruments to confront them.
No doubt, the achievements of SC 131 and the time spent in Rome at the NDC will leave a lasting mark in the memories of the new Anciens, as it will for those in the College who contributed to its remarkable success.