Generals, Flag Officers & Ambassadors Course (GFOAC) 2015-1: NATO IN A WORLD OF MAYHEM
From 11 to 15 May 2015, the Generals, Flag Officers and Ambassadors' Course (GFOAC 2015-1) took place at the NATO Defense College (NDC), bringing together 44 high-level civilian and military participants from NATO countries, the Partnership for Peace (PfP), the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), as well as Global Partners.
Participants were warmly welcomed by the Dean of the NDC, Dr Daria Daniels Skodnik (SVN C) and Course Director MajGen Pascal Valentin (FRA F). In his opening lecture, Prof C. Coker (GBR) spoke on the subject of “Cultural Dialogue: the Western Encounter with the Rest”, looking at the most burning issues the Alliance needs to address. The afternoon address on “NATO: Beyond the next Summit” was delivered by Mr Michael Rühle (NATO/DEU). Both these initial presentations were followed by thought-provoking and comprehensive discussion with the lecturers. At the end of the first day, this GFOAC introduced an experimental feature: participant lectures, with two scheduled during the week. The first of these was given by Mr William Lahue (USA), who spoke about “Georgia and NATO Enlargement”.
On the following day, GFOAC Course Members enjoyed two lectures entitled “The Transatlantic Link: the Cornerstone of the Alliance”. The speakers, Amb Robert E. Hunter (USA) and Prof Carlo Masala (DEU), briefed the audience on current and prospective challenges facing the Alliance, highlighting the continuing need for the Transatlantic Link on both sides of the Atlantic. In the afternoon, a talk on “Russia and NATO” by Mrs Heidi Reisinger (DEU) opened up a discussion on a particularly topical subject, which was then complemented by the second participant lecture of the week: “The View from Moscow”, by Air Commodore C. Scott (GBR F).
On Wednesday 13 May, the course focused on “The Middle East and North Africa”, with lectures by Prof Fawaz A. Gerges (USA/LEB) and Prof Mustapha Benchenane (DZA/FRA C). The topic for the afternoon was “The Changing Character of Conflict”, with speaker Dr R. Johnson (GBR) providing a critical evaluation of current trends and prospects, as well as a personal perspective on what might be expected in future dealings with Russia.
The next day, participants focused on the role of technology. Prof Holger H. Mey (DEU) spoke on the subject of “Technological Development: Risks and Opportunities”. Dr Sandro Gayken (DEU) then examined concerns related to vulnerabilities in the specific, increasingly important area of “Cyber Security and Defence”.
On the last day of the course, attention shifted to China, with a talk by Prof Jonathan Holslag (BEL). MajGen Pascal Valentin, gave the closing remarks, thanking participants for their very active contribution to the growing success of the GFOAC programme.