51st Conference of Commandants – Second Day
On 19 May, the second day of the Conference focused on people and, more specifically, on “Resilience as a Skill to be Developed”. This was the final day of the Conference, where participants agreed on the ways forward and discussed the main takeaways of the event.
The day started with a lecture by Colonel Guillaume Gauthier, from the Ecole de Guerre, entitled “How We Teach Resilience as a Skill to the Officers at the French War College”. The lecture was followed by a Q&A session, after which participants divided into syndicates to discuss the issues raised.
Later, during the Conference Consolidation, the participants discussed the two main perspectives addressed during the Conference: organizational resilience and education, focusing on the skills that are needed to be resilient. The key takeaways from the first part of the Conference were the factors that organizations need to be mindful of in order to increase resilience, such as the workforce; technology, with a strong digital backbone; and systemic redundancy; as well as the importance of identifying vulnerabilities and building resilience both at the organizational and at the individual level.
Regarding the second perspective addressed at the conference, relating to education, one of the main takeaways was the need to understand resilience as part of a global ecosystem to which defence colleges contribute by learning to anticipate, prepare, react and adapt as a condition for success. Also highlighted were the importance of learning by failing so as to build experience and eventually be successful, and the need to educate future leaders in accepting and understanding risk.
Major General Oliver Kohl, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, then took the floor for his closing remarks. He expressed his appreciation to the organizing team and thanked the NATO Defense College (NDC) for the opportunity to host the 51st edition of this important annual event.
To conclude the Conference, NDC Commandant Lieutenant General Olivier Rittimann began by thanking the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College for hosting the Conference this year and for the efficient organization of the event. He then highlighted some key considerations regarding the methods and the more interactive working arrangements implemented at this year’s Conference.
Lieutenant General Rittimann underlined how the core topic of the Conference, “Resilience”, had once again come to the fore over the past few months and how the Conference provided the venue and opportunity to discuss issues and engage at the appropriate level.
Participants agreed on two main ways forward: first, mandating the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) to develop a reference curriculum for resilience, and secondly keeping the working group methodology to prepare the 52nd Conference of Commandants, which will take place at the Baltic Defence College in Tallinn in May 2023 and focus on the following theme: “Resident Education, the future?”.