Senior Course 129: European Perspectives and International Organizations Field Study - London
On the evening of Thursday 29th September 2016, Senior Course 129 flew from Berlin to London. After an initial ‘continental’ perspective, the purpose was to discover the British contribution to the Alliance at the dawn of a new period in international relations. Mr Giles Ahern, Head of the NATO and Europe Policy Division at the UK Ministry of Defence, extended a warm welcome to the group in the MOD Memorial Courtyard.
The next morning, the group returned to the MOD for a series of in-depth briefings by various speakers involved in coordinating Euro-Atlantic security policy, at a time when the UK MOD and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are working so closely together that some of their branches have, in practical terms, merged. A panel of distinguished speakers, led by Mr Giles Ahern, comprised Group Captains Paul O'Neill and Dan Storr, from the MOD; Ms Lisa Chesney, from the FCO; and Ms Bianca Jinga, from the Department for International Development (DFID). Their briefings to Course Members provided an excellent overview of the challenges the UK is meeting, illustrating how the response is increasingly based on a “whole of government” approach.
Course Members then had an opportunity to engage the speakers in a discussion period. A wide range of contemporary issues was covered, including the proven relevance of the Strategic Concept as well as the balance between deterrence and engagement.
This initial Field Study is proving of particular interest, in view of the Study Project topics chosen by the various Committees for in-depth written assignments.