Last stop for SC 142 Field Study 1: Berlin
Germany was the last country visited by SC 142 Course Members. A city tour and an outstanding reception organized at the German Federal Ministry of Defence made for an unforgettable stop in Berlin for the NDC delegation.
Upon arriving in Berlin, Senior Course 142 embarked on a sightseeing tour entitled “Berlin, Yesterday and Today”, a very interesting tour around the impressive capital city of Germany, kindly hosted by the German MoD.
The following day, at the German Federal Ministry of Defence, the NDC delegation was received by Lieutenant General Markus Laubenthal, Vice Chief of Defence, with some welcome remarks. In his speech, LGEN Laubenthal highlighted the peculiarities of the Senior Course, an international course with 75 participants from 32 different nations: such an exceptional opportunity to work together and share experiences and knowledge. He went to recall the main challenges to the Alliance for the near future: Russia, China and terrorism, which will also affect Germany as a nation.
Colonel Jörg Prescher, Faculty Advisor and German Senior National Representative at the NATO Defense College, was the moderator of the day, introducing the first briefer: Dr. rer. pol. Karl-Heinz Kamp, Special Envoy of the Political Director at the Federal Ministry of Defence and former Director of the Research Division at the NDC, who presented “An Overview of German Security Policy”. Dr Kamp started by giving a short assessment of the war in Ukraine and Russian failures, a consequence of erroneous initial assumptions, then focused on key security challenges, as well as China, which is viewed as a strong strategic competitor, instability in Africa, terrorism, and climate change, which will affect mainly the South. Speaking about internal security policy, the briefer pointed out how complex the decision-making process in the German government’s system can be, as a federal republic composed of several states with different points of view. Dr Kamp also discussed support to Ukraine, the defence budget and the national security strategy, concluding that the majority of the German population fully supports their country’s policy on defence. Questions from Course Members mainly focused on the budget, the defence industry and Germany’s Indo-Pacific interests.
The next presentation centred on “The Employment of Armed Forces in International Crisis Management and National and Collective Defence”, led by Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Wilhelm Thomas Abry, Chief of Division II, Directorate-General for Strategy and Operations at the Federal Ministry of Defence. The briefer outlined the German military strategic perspective, which is in line with the NATO Strategic Concept and the European Strategic Compass. RADM Abry also described German interests and tasks in defence, underlining the importance of deterrence and defence and highlighting Germany’s main lines of effort: the budget; the new NATO Force Model, focusing on the German contribution; collective defence; the maritime focus on the Northern Flank, including the unity of the Baltic Sea region; and the German logistics hub in support of coalition forces and international cooperation. Regarding the German force posture on NATO’s Eastern Flank, the officer gave an overview of the Force deployed in Eastern Europe and explained how Germany is providing Ukraine with defence assistance, not only in terms of materiel and equipment, but also training Ukrainian troops, especially on defence systems, as well as the Leopard tank. Regarding the geostrategic approach, RADM Abry gave some insights on international cooperation, including the German contribution to Indo-Pacific situational awareness. During the ensuing question and answer session, Course Members enquired about priorities for new budget investments, the deployment of forces on the Eastern Flank, the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific posture, and the integration of Finland and Sweden into NATO, among other topics.
At the end of the Q&A session, the NDC Commandant, Lieutenant General Rittimann, took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Bundeswehr Memorial, followed by a short tour and briefing attended by the whole NDC delegation.
In the afternoon, Dr Pia Fuhrhop, International Security Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) presented a briefing on “Current Challenges in Security Policy”, addressing several topics: the war in Ukraine; political challenges in connection with Russia and China; the increasing German presence in the South; economic security and gas independence; climate change and security challenges for the future; transformation related to new technologies; procurement reform; and the nuclear deterrence posture. The questions that Course Members posed afterwards also centred on those topics.
The last session concluded a successful day with extensive information on the military and political aspects of German security, giving Course Members the necessary insights for further discussions and debates as part of Senior Course 142.
In the evening, the NDC delegation was hosted by Ambassador Ekkehard Brose, President of the Federal Academy for Security Policy at the Federal Ministry of Defence, for a Bavarian-style buffet dinner.