Senior Course 135 and NATO Regional Cooperation Course 22 Field Study: Brussels
Members of Senior Course 135 and NATO Regional Cooperation Course (NRCC) spent a few productive days this week engaging with senior officials at NATO and the European Union. As part of the Trans-Atlantic link Field Study, Course Members had a rare opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation of matters relating to both the Alliance and the EU.
Mr Mikel Ladabaso Alvarez, Director for Strategy and Corporate Communication at the EU’s Directorate of General Communication, began by presenting the future of the EU - post Brexit - offering his views on populism and the need for reform within the EU. He was followed by Mr Diego De Ojeda, EU representative to the Political and Security Committee, who reviewed European defence developments. The visit to the EU Commission concluded with a valuable presentation on EU cooperation in the MENA region and its contribution to stability, by Ms Isabelle Combes. Course Members left the EU Commission with a much better understanding of this key international organization, and the larger role it plays in security and defence.
Following the EU visit, Members from both Courses visited NATO Headquarters. While there, they received in depth presentations on: current operations from the IMS Planning Division; NATO’s partnership programme and priorities; the NATO Defence Planning Process; and how NATO views hybrid threats.
Senior Course 135 spent the afternoon at SHAPE Headquarters and was welcomed by BGen Jasper De Quincey Adams, Director of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC). In addition to explaining the CCOMC, he also reviewed NATO adaptation initiatives and how they are being implemented. Representatives from the Plans and Policy Branch oriented Course Members to how SHAPE is implementing the NATO Military Strategy. Course Members also received a detailed tour of the CCOMC. LTGen Oliver Rittimann, Vice Chief of Staff concluded the visit with a productive question and answer session.
Simultaneously, NRCC-22 Course Members from partner countries received a briefing delivered by Mr Michael Rühle who leads the Hybrid Challenges and Energy Security Section. He discussed the emerging security challenges division in NATO’s International Staff.
Mr Rühle also addressed the hybrid threats the Alliance is currently facing. He explained how difficult it is to define what hybrid conflict means and he focused on the fact that hybrid challenges can create ambiguity and, thereby, complicate the decision-making process in NATO. He gave an excellent insight on all possible future hybrid challenges and on the need for a more conceptual analysis of these challenges, stressing the very useful coordination with the European Union.
The Field Study is proving an invaluable experience for Course Members. Both the calibre of speakers and outstanding question and answer sessions reinforced the learning objectives. Course Members will return with a much better understanding of key strategic-level concepts.