The students of the Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) 2020/2021 attended the Virtual International Study Trip (IST) from 7th to 9th of June 2021. The aim of the IST has been to focus on cooperation with selected NATO entities and member states in order to comprehend the regional security developments.
The purpose of the JCGSC is to develop and educate officers and civil servants to thrive in multi-service and international joint staff and command positions, BALTDEFCOL provides the students with a wide range of external lecturers and guest speakers and offers a variety of opportunities to discuss complex security challenges with high-level military officers and civil servants from different NATO and EU organisations.
Via virtual meetings, students had an opportunity to visit EU Military Staff (EUMS), Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS), Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (AWACS), German-Netherland Corps, U.S. 6th Fleet, Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFCNP), Italian Joint Force Headquarters and European Union’s Naval Force – Mediterranean (EUNAVFORMED). In addition to the organisations mentioned, students had an opportunity to meet with the Estonian Military Representative to NATO and EU, Rear Admiral Igor Schvede, who graduated from the Baltic Defence College in 2003.
During the meetings with the representatives of EU, parties discussed the complexities of current challenges faced by the EU, ongoing military operations and decision-making processes, particularly in the Baltic Sea region.
JFC Brunssum and JFC Naples offered discussions on NATO Command Structure and their responsibilities. Furthermore, students had an opportunity to improve their knowledge regarding the operations planning process. The virtual visit was followed by the same topic but with the other organization, including the German-Netherland Corps and US 6th Fleet, which introduced their structure, role, mission and tasks.
In comparison, Major General Delbene, representing Italian Joint Force Headquarters, presented Italy’s national defence structure, role, responsibilities, challenges and threats. Students had the opportunity to clarify the role of ITA-JFHQ regarding an unstable situation in the Middle East and Africa, specifically considering migration.
Finally, yet importantly, students attended a virtual discussion with Rear Admiral Jean-Michel Martinet, Deputy Operation Commander of EUNAVFOR MED. He focused on the EUNAVFOR MED IRINI operation that aims at contributing to achieving peace and stability in Libya. In total 23 nations, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are contributing troops to this operation.
In conclusion, as due to COVID-19 the travelling is limited, that kind of virtual engagement still allows students to receive an overview of different military organisations, which, in turn, helps to consolidate the knowledge gained during the Course. Thanks to the technical solutions, students had the opportunity to visit more organisations in a short time, which gives them a broader knowledge of NATO and EU activities at the operational level.
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