17 December 2010 marked two important moments in the history of the BALTDEFCOL – the Change of Command Ceremony and the Graduation of the Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC) 2010.
The event held in the Main Hall of the BALTDEFCOL was honored by the presence of Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defenses of three Baltic States, BALTDEFCOL former Commandants Danish BG (ret) Michael Clemmesen and Lithuanian BG Algis Vaiceliunas, as well as other honorable guests among them Ambassadors, Defence Attaches, heads of military colleges, and other high state officials.
The Command of the BALTDEFCOL was handed to BG Meelis Killi (EST A) from his previous successor the 3rd Commandant of the College BG Gundars Abols (LVA A) who hold the position from December 2007.
In his ending speech BG Gundars Abols expressed gratitude to those who have had a great share in the development and support of the BALTDEFCOL. He gave an overview of the main achievements of the past three years as well as highlighted the key challenges which the BALTDEFCOL will face in the future.
After the official Change of Command the new Commandant BG Meelis Kiili held his initiation speech, promising to continue the progress achieved and strengthen the development of the BALTDEFCOL.
During the Change of Command speeches were given by the Defence Minister of Estonia H.E. Mr Jaak Aaviksoo, his Latvian counterpart H.E. Mr Artis Pabriks and Lithuanian counterpart H.E. Ms Rasa Jukneviciene.
Of no minor importance was the Graduation of the HCSC 2010 held as part of the Ceremony. During the Graduation diplomas were handed to 11 students representing seven different nations those being in addition to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also Georgia, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine.
In the end of the official Graduation Ceremony BG Gundars ?bols awarded the BALTDEFCOL Directing and Support Staff members. The BALTDEFCOL Medal of Merit Silver was awarded for outstanding efforts, highly professional and dedicated work to LTC Valerijus Šerelis, MSG Alar Lehesaar, Dr Valentin Abramov, Ms Kadi Salu and Ms Eve Vahtra.
BALTDEFCOL Medal of Merit Bronze Class was awarded for valuable service and remarkable support to COL Zdzislaw Sliwa, COL (ret) Risto Gabrielsson, LTC Sam Casmus, LTC Harri Ints, LTC Albertas Kondrotas, LTC Artur Lillenurm, LTC Carol-Teodor Peterfi, CDR SG Sten Sepper, LTC Aare Tuvike, LTC Vidas Zabiela, MAJ Georgs Kerlins, Mr Didzis Nimants, Mr Oliver Toots, Ms Kaie Ehrenberg, Ms Kadri Parkel and Ms Kristiina Tagel.
Last but not lest the BALTDEFCOL Service Cross was awarded for reliable service as member of college staff to LTC Anita Berzina and LTC Carol-Teodor Peterfi.
The whole event was colored by musical episodes performed by the Latvian National Armed Forces Big Band.
Afterwards the BALTDEFCOL Staff, high level guest and graduated students of the HCSC 2010 moved for a reception to the Tartu University History Museum to celebrate this very special occasion.
New BALTDEFCOL Commandant BG Meelis Kiili was born on 20 March 1965. He earned his civilian degree in 1991 from Estonian University of Agriculture, and continued his career in military by graduating the 1st course in the BALTDEFCOL’s history, the Senior Staff Course, in year 2000. BG Meelis Kiili continued his military education in 2006-2007 in NATO Defence College Rome, and has attended different military courses in- and outside Estonia.
Since 1993 BG Meelis Kiili has served in different positions in Estonian Defence League, Baltic Battallion, Estonian Land Forces, and Peace Operations Centre. He hold the office of the Deputy Chief of General Staff in 2006-2007, and prior to assuming the position of the BALTDEFCOL Commandant served Estonia for two years as Defence Attaché to US and Canada.