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NDC - News-Small But Strategic: Defence Through the Lens of a Frontline Ally

Small But Strategic: Defence Through the Lens of a Frontline Ally

  • 13 Dec. 2023
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  • Last updated: 21 Jan. 2024 12:55

Bratislava, Slovakia, was the second stop of the third Field Study of the academic programme of Senior Course 143. The visit took place at the Slovak Ministry of Defence where the NATO Defense College (NDC) Commandant, Lieutenant General Max A.L.T. Nielsen, and Senior Course 143 were welcomed by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, Lieutenant General Ľubomír Svoboda, and Ms Jana Kotorova, Director of International Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Discussion with Lieutenant General Ľubomír Svoboda and Ms Jana Kotorova

An Ancien of the NDC Senior Course 101 himself, Lieutenant General Svoboda praised the “special place” that the NDC represents in military education by promoting mutual understanding and cooperation among Allied and partner nations, and the “crucial” mission of equipping Course Members to navigate through the world’s complex security environment.

The visit to Slovakia expanded on Senior Course curriculum topics by enabling Course Members to learn directly from experts in Slovakia’s defence and security fields.

A candid and insightful discussion with Lieutenant General Ľubomír Svoboda and Ms Kotorova allowed Course Members to gain a deeper understanding of the Slovakian defence and security posture, along with the direct implications for Slovakia stemming from the decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Vilnius.

In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Slovakia stands as a frontline nation on the Allied eastern flank. The briefings underscored Slovakia’s support for Ukraine, its commitment to NATO, and the support extended by NATO to Slovakia. A vital NATO Ally, Slovakia maintains a defence policy oriented towards the west, actively seeks collaboration with NATO Allies, and remains dedicated to investing a minimum of 2% of its national GDP in defence expenditure, aimed at strengthening defence capabilities and deterrence measures.

Slovakia has provided substantial defence support to Ukraine. Yet as a small frontline nation, it relies on international support to tackle the intensified threat from Russia. Slovakia is hosting a NATO-led multinational battle group with 1300 personnel, which has provided a strong deterrence effect to the country, and a symbol of Allied solidarity, reinforcing NATO's efforts to enhance force readiness within the country, emphasized Ms Kotorova.

Moreover, Course Members heard from experts working at the Ministry of Defence about Slovakia’s ongoing process of reconstruction its armed forces, in line with the country’s plans to strengthen and modernize the capabilities of the national armed forces and infrastructure. They were also briefed on the Slovak Ministry of Defence system of defence planning, as well as how it contrasts and complements NATO Defence Planning.

During bi-lateral meetings with Lieutenant General Svoboda and Ms Jana Kotorova, the NDC Commandant extended his appreciation for Slovakia’s valuable contributions to the NATO Defense College and explored possible ways of boosting collaboration between Slovakia and the College. The Commandant further emphasized the insights that the briefings offered into Slovakia's challenges as a small nation. He commended Slovakia's strategic responses, highlighting its significance as an important NATO Ally.

Slovakian Course Member Colonel Jan Hric, highlighted how this visit enhances Course Members' comprehension of cultural variances, acknowledging the Alliance as a collective entity beyond individual nations. According to him, this was an opportunity to grasp both the similarities and disparities between countries. Following the Field Study visits to Denmark and Slovakia, both smaller nations, he believes that small countries share considerable similarities. Understanding how to allocate investments and prioritize needs within these smaller nations is crucial, for example. Ultimately, in his opinion, the Field Study visits abroad enrich the Senior Course by offering insights into the diverse challenges encountered by Allied and partner countries.

NDC Public Affairs Office
( Prepared by Ms Sofia Carvalheiro, PRT C)