The Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) 2016/2017 of the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) conducts its International Study Tour (IST) from 14th to 20th of May. The students will participate in briefings and discussions at NATO HQs, EUMS HQ and national elements of command, and in Professional Military Education entities. The aim of the study tour is to expose our officers to NATO, EU, and national strategic and operational insights into processes as well as to discuss current security related issues and to conduct military history case studies on site.
According to BALTDEFCOL´s educational policy the IST and its participants are divided into three different tracks, therefore promoting a more tailored study experience. This year the tracks are UK and France; Belgium and the Netherlands; and Italy.
Student group travelling to UK and France visited the British Ministry of Defence on 15th of May, and learned about British Defence priorities and concerns. In addition, the programme included engagement with the Joint Expeditionary Force Britain and interaction with the MoD's Baltic Desk Officer. Afterwards students visited the US Embassy in London and had a chance to hear from and share their own perspectives with US military, economic and political advisors.
Next day continued with visit to NATO Maritime Component Command (MARCOM) in Northwood and to Royal Navy Harbor in Portsmouth. Students engaged with the Chief of Plans regarding broad MARCOM focuses as well as Baltic considerations. The group then travelled to the Southern UK town of Portsmouth to see Britain's main naval dockyard. While there, they were also able to see the HMS Victory, made famous by its action in the historic Battle of Trafalgar, on their way to cross the English Channel and complete a staff ride tour of the Normandy beaches.
On Wednesday, 17th of May, the team, headed by BALTDEFCOL Commandant Major General Andis Dilāns, explored coast of Normandy and main battlefield of operation Overlord (Omaha beach, Point du Hoc, Mulberry Harbour and Pegasus Bridge). Staff ride allowed students to see and feel the terrain on which the WWII Operation Overlord landings occurred. Following a concentrated look at Omaha Beach, the students paid their respects to the fallen soldiers buried in the adjacent cemetery. The afternoon included a study of Pointe du Hoc where US Rangers defeated German gun emplacements during the operation. The staff ride allowed studies to study this historic battle and apply the concepts they have learned over the course of their studies to how operations were conducted and how they may have been conducted differently.
On 18 May in Paris, after having received a comprehensive review and having discussed structure of French military system, as well as current and future trends in French military strategy in the Ministry of Armed Forces of France (Balard), students of the JCGSC and the accompanying staff, headed by BALTDEFCOL Commandant MG Andis Dilāns, were invited to the Embassy of Estonia in France for the reception kindly hosted by the Estonian Ambassador to France H.E. Mr Alar Streimann and the Defence Attache to France LTC Jaanus Sägi.
H.E. Mr A.Streimann underlined in his welcoming address the importance of the cooperation between BALTDEFCOL, Estonia and France, a paid special attention to the significance of the French participation in the Enhanced Forward Presence initiative in the region, as well as thanked France for this invaluable contribution. The reception was also attended by Vice Minister of National Defence of Lithuania Mr Edvinas Kerza, Latvian Ambassador to France H.E. Imants Lieģis, the Special Advisor to the French Chief of Defence in Future Trends and Military Strategy MG Jean Louis Paccagnini, and other honourable guests. All the participats of this special event definitely enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere and exquisite French cuisine so generously offered by our Estonian colleagues.
The final engagement of the trip for the students was with the École de Guerre – the French equivalent to BALTDEFCOL´s JCGSC. Students were able to gain insight into how the French educational system works and similarities and differences between the two programs. Several international students attending the École de Guerre discussed with the BALTDEFCOL students the program and opportunities they had during the course. As part of the programme, the head of the BALTDEFCOL delegation, Major General Andis Dilans, had an Office Call with his French counterpart Major General de Reviers de Mauny, the Director of École de Guerre.
The student body of IST Track 2 to Belgium and the Netherlands, had an opportunity to explore Brussels in a splendid weather, and visited European Union Military Staff (EUMS) on 15th of May.
At EUMS Rear Admiral Waldemar Gluszko, Deputy Director General of the EUMS, welcomed our group and introduced the EUMS by giving detailed overview on the importance of the institution, staff composition and its linkage/cooperation with NATO.
The briefings at EUMS were continued with presentation by Colonel Paulo Beressan, Assistant Chief of Staff External actions, who introduced the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), development and structure of CSDP Political and Advisory Bodies, as well as introduced European External Action Service (EEAS) system. Students got thorough insight into the EUMS structure, role and involvement in operations and missions.
Brigadier General Heinz Krieg, Director of Concepts and Capabilities Directorate, afterwards elaborated on EU military concepts and capabilities in relation with future perspectives of hybrid threats and the Global strategy of the EU.
Lieutenant colonel Aurelijus Motiejuas, Action officer in Operations Directorate, introduced military missions and operations in which EUMS is involved. He focused on current situation, challenges and way ahead.
The programme of 16th of started with a to visit Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCB). Lieutenant General Janusz Adamczak, Chief of Staff HQ JFCB, opened the visit with welcome remarks and shared his view on the changes in NATO security changes, role and mission of the JFCB.
Students had the privilege to hear political and military aspects of the importance of transition from Assurance to Deterrence from Operational level perspective. Moreover, upcoming exercises Trident Javelin 2017 were introduced as well as the organization of Joint operation centre.
Later on, same day, group visited NATO Airborne Early Warning Force (AWACS) E-3A component where the local staff elaborated on the history of AWACS development, establishment of the component, the role, mission, structure and capabilities, as well as component’s involvement in current operations and exercises. The tour in E-3A ended with the short excursion round the planes.
The day finished with the visit to the fortress of Eben Emael where guide explained German airborne units on 10 May 1940 conducted one of the special operations neutralizing the treat of numerous prepared defensive positions. This tour was coupled with academics covering SOF theory and its relevance on operational level with regards to employment of SOF.
On the third day, the IST group travelling to Belgium and the Netherlands, had a remarkable opportunity to visit the places were Allied Forces conducted the operation Market Garden in mid-September 1944. Despite controversial assessment of operation Market Garden, this staff ride on well-known Hell’s highway provided indelible impressions and ability to see the key objects on the ground. Historical knowledge in conjunction with observations at place created better understanding of the events happened more than 72 years ago and how these events can connect to contemporary operational level planning and execution of operations.
On the following day the delegation had the pleasure to visit and spend a day in 1 (German / Netherlands) Corps (1GNC). The delegation was hnoured to have been welcomed by Brigadier General Soberg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Knowledge, Plans & Policy, who introduced the corps, explained its role and mission, structure, tasks and plans. During the visit, challenges were stressed to be as corps HQ, to be ready to act as land component or undertake the Joint Task Force HQ tasks. After visiting E-3A (air) component two days ago, this visit to land unit completed understanding of joint operations planning and comprehensives of operational level solving.
On the last day of the tour, 19th of May, the students travelling in direction Brussels and the Netharlands, visited Command and Control Centre of Excellence (C2COE). LTC Markus Werther, Deputy Director C2COE, together with his staff introduced with the history, importance of the centre, its structure and the role. It was explained C2COE’s contributions and the products and support to other institutions and organizations on C2 issues. The most valuable information was provided on how global urbanization will affect future operations and the students got the opportunity to vitness how COE supported 1GNC in its transformation to operate at joint level.
Team Italy started the first day on their study trip, 15th of May, with a visit to JFC Naples where the students were briefed on current aspects of the HQs responsibilities. After an additional visit to US 6. Fleet, were the focus was on Operation Unified Protector, the offical part of the day ended with a visit of Pompei.
Copyright of JFC Naples
After finalizing the first day of the study trip with sea food and white wine, team Italy continued their journey. The main focus of the second day was the Monte Cassino case study. The group visited important sights were the Battles of Cassino took place during WW2. The group paid respect to the soldiers and civilians who lost their lifes and laid down flowers at two militay memorials.
Team Italy travelled from Naples to Rome on the third day of their study trip. On the way to Rome they visited the Monastery of Monte Cassino and the Polish military memorial. The students were lucky to have been invited by our Italian tour guide to homemade Limoncello and cake.
The 4th day of the tour of Team Italy started with a visit of the Italian Joint Operation Center, where the group was briefed on current operations of Italy within the framework of NATO, EU, and UN. After this comprehensive presentation, the group spent a visit to the Italian Defence Institution (CASD) where a briefing on role and mission of the institution was presented. After lunch at the CASD, the group enjoyed a guided tour in the centre of Rome. The day ended with a common dinner.