Baltic Defence Study Trip successfully conducted
The students of the Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) 2022/2023
visited the capitals and different military units of the Baltic states as part
of the annual Baltic Defence Study Trip (BDST). This Study Trip is an integral
and important part of the course curriculum, providing the students with
knowledge of the national defence policies, decision-making principles, and
defence planning priorities. It also contributes to familiarisation with
international military structures, including NATO's presence in the region and
a better understanding of national military installations, facilities, and
The visited institutions were chosen by the principle that the students would
gain knowledge with respect to specific fields to meet the BDST Learning
Objectives. In addition, some of the institutions contributed to
familiarisation with international military structures, including NATO's
presence in the region, as well as the attainment of a better understanding of
national military installations and facilities.
On the first day, the group visiting Estonia had the opportunity to meet with
Mr Leo Kunnas, Vice Chairman of the Estonian National Defence Committee. The
main focus was defence policies and budget, its increase and planned
allocation. The program also included a visit to the Estonian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs to discuss the international challenges and the activities
related to Ukraine.
The second day of the BDST included various briefings and discussions.
Estonian group started the day in the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in
Estonia, followed by a defence planning and budget discussion with Ms Tiina
Uudeberg, the Undersecretary for Defence Planning from the Estonian Ministry
of Defence. The day continued with speakers from EDF HQ, the Center for
Defence Investment, Defence League and the Estonian Navy.
BG Riho Ühtegi, the Commander of the Defence League presented the nature of
the organization, main tasks, equipment etc. Commodore Jüri Saska, the
Commander of the Estonian Navy, gave a briefing about the Navy, its
equipment/ships, ongoing projects and major exercises in which they take
The third day was dedicated to the Air Force being an opportunity to visit the
Estonian Air Force Ämari base, where the students were briefed by Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff (COS) LTC Fredi Karu. He introduced the main tasks of
the Air Force, cooperation with NATO and other Baltic states. The briefing was
followed by a base tour, where the group had the opportunity to greet Belgium
Air Policing Officers and see the F-16s. The second half of the day was spent
in the Seaplane Harbour Museum.
On the last day of the BDST, the programme took students to Tapa, where they
had the opportunity to get familiar with the 1st Infantry Brigade (INF BDE)
followed by a Tapa base tour. The students saw the equipment of the Scouts
Battalion, the new barracks and the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP’s)
equipment. It was followed by introduction of main tasks, objectives and
future challenges of the 1st INF BDE by its Commander, COL Andrus Merilo.
The day ended with a briefing by the NATO Battlegroup Estonia representative,
who explained tasks, objectives and responsibilities in Estonia.
The group visiting Latvia kicked off their BDST with Kurzeme Staff Ride with a
lecture on the strategic and operational situation of the WWII operations on
the Kurland Peninsula in 1944 and 1945, and then we got acquainted with the
Priekule battle. The students had the opportunity to examine the terrain and
situational maps as well as receive the detailed comments of the military
historian and a Subject Matter Expert Mr Valdis Kuzmins. The Latvian group
continued to explore the battle of Kurzeme of World War II when the students
visited the defensive installations of Liepaja Karosta and the sight of the
Lestenes battle. They had a great possibility to visit the Headquarters of
Naval Forces hosted by COS, Commander Gvido Ļaudups.
On the third day, the group paid a visit to the Riga Castle, where the
Administration of the President of the Republic of Latvia is situated. The
students had an opportunity to meet with the National Security Adviser to the
President of Latvia, Mr Jānis Kažociņš, and the Legal Policy Adviser Mr Jānis
After the visit, the programme continued in the Ministry of National Defence
of Latvia. The officers were welcomed by the Secretary of the State Jānis
Garisons and various presentations were heard from the Directors of the
Defence Planning and Analysis Department and the Department of Military Public
Affairs. Students were also introduced to STRATCOM Centre of Excellence and
the NATO Force Integration Unit in Latvia.
During the visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the BALTDEFCOL officers
received a presentation on Latvia’s foreign policy.
The BDST's final day of continued in Ādaži, one of the largest military camps,
where both Latvian and NATO units are stationed. The students were welcomed by
the Latvian Land Forces and mechanized brigade Commander Colonel Sandris
Gaugers, who is also the Ādaži Garrison Commander. It included briefings
by representatives of the Latvian JHQ J3/5/7 Department; NATO enhanced Forward
Presence Battle Group Latvia, and NATO Multinational Division North. The
up-to-date information was presented regarding the units’ readiness, training
and exercises, and future projects.
During the visit to the Ādaži base, the team got the opportunity to become
familiar with the situation of infrastructure development and daily living
conditions of the military personnel serving on the base.
The BDST started with a visit to the Lithuanian President's Palace and the
Ministry of National Defence with the opportunity to meet members of the
National Security and Defence Committee, the Chancellor of the MoND and the
Defence Policy Director. For members of the Žemaitis Syndicate, it was a
special day as they had an opportunity to visit General Žemaitis's statue, the
Syndicate patron, located in the middle of Vilnius.
The next day, the group visited Lithuania (LTU) Armed Forces Defence Staff and
NATO Force Integration Unit Lithuania to be familiarized with how the
Lithuanian Armed Forces and NFIU contribute to national security and defence.
Later, the BALTDEFCOL students visited Marijampole, where representatives of
the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union hosted a historical case study related to the
1941 battles in Lithuania.
The third day was dedicated to the Air Force marked by a visit to the Air
Force Base in Šiauliai, where students had the opportunity to familiarise
themselves with the structure and tasks of the LTU Air Force. The visit ended
with a meeting with Hungarian colleagues from Baltic Air Policing Detachment.
On the last day of the BDST, the students visited the Pabradė Training Area.
At that time, the Iron Wolf Brigade conducted a field exercise to integrate
NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuanian Defence Forces. Even though both units were
busy fulfilling their tactical task, the welcome was warm, and interesting
information was provided by the presenters.
The Baltic Defence College expresses its sincerest gratitude towards all
high-level speakers and contributors.