1 June 2023 the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) Change of Command and the Graduation Ceremony of the Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC) 2023, and the Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) 2022-2023 took place.
The event was honored by the presence of high level representatives of the Ministries of Defence and Defence and Armed Forces of the Baltic states as well as Ambassadors, Defence Attachés and other high-ranking officials.
During the Joint Ceremony, the Command of the BALTDEFCOL was officially handed over to Brigadier General Alvydas Šiuparis (LTU Army) by receiving the Colours of the College from the outgoing Commandant Brigadier General Ilmar Tamm (EST Army).
In his farewell speech Brigadier General Ilmar Tamm expressed his gratitude to those who have had a great share in the development and support of the BALTDEFCOL by stating: " I would like to thank all of you for your support and commitment to fulfilling the mission of the College. Every achievement College has accomplished, I would like to stress, is due to your contribution and effort. My task was simple - to keep the purpose clear and provide you with guidance and ensure the motivation is high." He continued by saying: "So, this is the end of my five years journey at the Baltic Defence College. I am probably not recognizing how much I am going to miss it, but I will. Yet, I am not done serving my country and continuing the service in the Estonian Defence Forces, which means I don’t want to say goodbye."
Minister of Defence of Estonia Mr Hanno Pevkur in his remarks highlighted that this is the day to celebrate the achievements of the graduates. He said: "In order to win the war, one thing is to have the skills, and the second to have friendship, but what actually matters is having the trust when the need to make decisions arises." He continued by highlighting that the story of College is a story of constant progress. He stressed that there are two ways to command the BALTDFCOL - either to lead or to follow - Brigadier General Tamm has clearly showed that he has lead the BALTDEFCOL, and advised the incoming Commandant Brigadier General Šiuparis to follow the same path.
Minister of National Defence Mr Arvydas Anušauskas, in his remarks, started with congratulating the graduates on successful completion of the courses. He continued by thanking Brigadier General Tamm for hard work and leadership by awarding the latter with Lithuanian National Defence System Medal of Merit, as well as wished Brigadier General Šiuparis all the best in the new position.
In addition, outgoing Commandant Brigadier General Tamm was awarded by the Minister of Defence of Poland Mariusz Błaszczak, represented by Polish Defence Attaché Colonel Andrzej Dylong, Polish Army Medal II Class (Silver).
During the ceremony Brigadier General Tamm was also awarded with the Baltic Defence College´s highest award - the Medal of Merit Gold - for his enduring and successful promotion of the College as Professional Military Education institution of choice towards Allies and partners, and selflessly advancing and promoting the security requirements of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
After assuming the Command of the BALTDEFCOL Brigadier General Alvydas Šiuparis, in his inauguration speech firstly congratulated the graduates and said "For officers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania most of the roads at some points lead to Tartu, Estonia, to the BALTDEFCOL." He assured that during his new assignment as the Commandant of the BALTDEFCOL he will concentrate on strengthening the cooperation with other military educational institutions, partners and allies, as we are only strong together!
It is important to highlight that College Sergeant Major and Course Director of Command Senior Enlisted Leaders' Course (CSELC) Sergeant Major Peeter Einbaum officially handed over his duties to Lithuanian Command Sergeant Major Alvydas Tamosiunas.
Not of minor importance was the Graduation of the HCSC 2023 and JCGSC 2022-2023. This year, we graduated 25 students of the HCSC 2023 and 66 students of the JCGSC 2022-2023. Diplomas were handed altogether to 91 students from 20 nations representing Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.
BALTDEFCOL Commandant Brigadier General Ilmar Tamm opened the Ceremony with his opening remarks saying "I am confident that all of you understand the wider impact of your professional knowledge when military power is utilized. The devastating and unjust war in Ukraine is not over yet and continues to demand determination and stamina from allies to keep up with the support of the brave Ukrainians. However, when victory day comes, and it will come, we shall have learned from Ukrainians and be ready by adapting plans, troops, capabilities and policies to defend the Alliance together with Ukrainians." Finally, the Commandant encouraged the graduates to keep in touch with each other and with the College as they belong to the Baltic Defence College family; and it is the graduates, who make the institution unique and carry on its team spirit.
As a tradition, best students of the graduating courses were recognized for their outstanding performance during their studies.
The Class Leader CAPT (N) Peeter Ivask delivered the graduation speech on behalf of the HCSC 2023. CAPT (N) Ivask stressed that when the course started 22 weeks then all course participants found themselves back in school environment requiring adaptation to new routines and new relationships. Over the time relationships became friendships which will hopefully last forever. During the speech, Dr Lukáš Dyčka was recognized as the Best Faculty Member by HCSC 2023. Congratulations!
Next, MAJ Ģirts Rasa, the Class Leader of JCGSC delivered the graduation speech on behalf of his course. He highlighted that their 9-month long journey at the College has been challenging and demanding but still interesting. He continued "Let us remember the lessons learned during the time spent at the College and continue to serve our nations at exceptional level." During his speech another recognition of Best Faculty Member, this time voted by the JCGSC, was announced. The title went once more to Dr Lukáš Dyčka. Congratulations to Dr Dyčka for the second nomination!
We send our warmest congratulations to all the graduates! We hope you will continue the road of self-development, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
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