Conference of Commandants – 41 Edition, Paris (France)
The Conference of Commandants was established by Vice-Admiral J.C. O'Brien (Canada), Commandant of the NATO Defense College from 1970 to 1973. It was held every year in Rome from May 1972 until 1988. Since then the Conference has continued to reconvene periodically in Rome, but has also been hosted with increasing frequency by its member institutions in their respective countries.
The Conference proposes, firstly, to facilitate the exchange of information between those responsible for higher defence education, with a view to improving curricula and teaching methods. Secondly, it aims to promote cooperation in higher defence education between Colleges in NATO countries, Partnership for Peace (PfP), Mediterranean Dialogue (MD), Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) and others.
The 41st Conference of Commandants was held in Paris on 20-22 May 2012. The event was chaired and hosted by the Commandant of the NATO Defense College (NDC) Lieutenant General Arne Bård DALHAUG and co-hosted by Vice Admiral Richard LABORDE, Director of the Institute for Higher National Defence Studies and Higher Military Training (IHEDN/DEMS) and held at the Ecole militaire.
Work began in earnest on Monday 21 May with introductory speeches from LtGen DALHAUG, who introduced the theme of the 41st Conference, “Changes in the Strategic Landscape – Changes in Higher Education Curricula”, and was followed by his co-host, VAdm LABORDE’s words of welcome. The floor was then given to a series of presenters who included Ambassador Fred TANNER who delivered a keynote speech on “Deficiencies in Global Governance and Implications on Defence Education”. CoC Permanent Secretariat,
Day 2 saw the 101 participants split up into four groups, each of which followed a Thinking Platform. This year’s Chairmen were BGen Craig HILTON, Commandant of the Canadian Forces College; LtGen Teodor FRUNZETI, Commandant of Romania’s Carol I National Defence University, Austrian LtGen Erich CSITKOVITS who heads the Landesverteidigungsakademie (LVAK) and BGen Thierry DURAND, Deputy Director of France’s DEMS. RAdm DEDICHEN, commandant of Norway’s Defence University College then invited everyone to the 42nd Conference of Commandants in Oslo and Dr Richard Hooker, Dean of the NDC then closed the Conference.
The 41st Conference was deemed a great success and attended by 101 participants from 42 countries representing 61 institutions. It continues to reflect the growing importance that NATO and the NATO Defense College place on partnership and this was reflected by the first-time presence of the Chairman of the African Conference of Commandants (ACoC), Botswana’s MGen Gotsilene MORAKE; the Commandant of Mongolia’s Defence University, BGen Boldbaatar ZAGDSUREN, and by delegations from as far afield as Uzbekistan’s Armed Force Academy and the Korean Republic’s National Defence University. The 41st edition sent out a strong signal of the importance of continuing dialogue and how a free and frank exchange of ideas will enable us to deal successfully with the many complex challenges that face us all.