The Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) 2012/2013 and Civil Servant Course (CSC) 2013 of the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) accompanied by Directing Staff members had their International Study Tour (IST) to Western Europe and Turkey-Azerbaijan on 2-7 JUNE.
The majority of the delegation headed by BALTDEFCOL Commandant Major General Vitalijus Vaikšnoras visited NATO Headquarters (HQ) of all levels of command in Western Europe.
The smaller delegation of 13 students and Directing Staff members, headed by BALTDEFCOL Deputy Commandant/Chief of Staff Colonel Ingemar Gustafsson conducted the IST in Turkey and Azerbaijan for the first time in BALTDEFCOL´s history.
Visit to Western Europe NATO Headquarters
The program consisted of visits to a strategic level NATO HQ in Brussels, military – strategic HQ SHAPE and component level NATO Special Forces HQ in Mons. The tour continued through Joint and Component level Head Quarters in Brunssum and Ramstein. We also had a chance to have the briefings at the Geilenkirchen Air Base.
The IST started on 3 June with the visit to NATO HQ in Brussels. There we were briefed about the military-political approach to the role of NATO HQ, the present Command Structure and NATO’s new Strategic Concept. The topics covered also NATO Operations and Partnership Programmes including NATO’s relations with Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.
The program of 4 June consisted of visit to SHAPE where the courses learned about the military-strategic approach to Allied Command Operations (ACO) and ACO Transition in the New NATO Command Structure. The delegation continued in the NATO Special Forces HQ where they were briefed about NSHQ and the SOF role in support to NATO Planning Process.
On 5 June the Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum welcomed BALTDEFCOL delegation and introduced ISAF campaign, NATO Response Force (NRF) Concept and further development of NATO Joint Logistic Support Group (JLSG).
The day continued in Geilenkirchen Air Base where after receiving thorough presentations BALTDEFCOL group paid a visit multi-national NATO E-3a Component, operating 17 BOEING NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft.
The last visit on 6 June was to Allied Air Command HQ in Ramstein. Briefings on AIRCOM mission and Air Policing with the focus on Baltic Air Policing as well as briefing about Lessons Learned during the Libya Operation were received.
Visit to Turkey and Azerbaijan
BALTDEFCOL´s smaller delegation of 13 students and Directing Staff members, headed by BALTDEFCOL Deputy Commandant/Chief of Staff Colonel Ingemar Gustafsson conducted the IST in Turkey and Azerbaijan for the first time in BALTDEFCOL´s history.
The delegation received welcome greeting by the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Turkey (NRDC-T) command and staff providing outstanding presentations covering the NRDC-T mission, structure, and impacts regarding NATO structure reform. Additionally, staff members provided roles in comprehensive approach and Smart Defence and how both integrate into the NRDC-T mission. The presentations led to in depth discussions between BALTDEFCOL students and the command and staff of the NRDC-T, with both sides gaining a valuable understanding of each other’s roles and the ways ahead.
The program continued with a visit to the Sultanahmet Square, Hagia Sophia Museum, Basilica Cistern, and Blue Mosque to see the remarkable sites and history of Turkey first-hand.
After an interesting day exploring the cultural highlights of Istanbul the IST continued in Azerbaijan.
The program consisted of visit to the Military College of the Armed Forces, where the guests were introduced to military education and training in Azerbaijan.
The day continued with a visit to the Ministry of Emergency Situations where discussion on internal threats to Azerbaijan and their implementation of a comprehensive approach in dealing with emergency situations was held.
This comprehensive approach was even further discussed at the next appointment to the Internal Troops Command.
The next day opened with a warm welcome by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affair who provided the delegation a holistic briefing on the geostrategic importance of the entire Caucasus region with implication for Europe but also for Azerbaijan.
The last full day led us to the Azerbaijani Diplomatic Academy (ADA) and the delegation was impressed by the state of the art educational institution that is currently transforming into a university with international ambitions and standards. Discussions opened opportunities for potential cooperation between BALTDEFCOL and the ADA.
The annual IST was conducted as part of Learning Area 1: Module 106. Having completed the tour the students had a better understanding of the joint environment, the role of components, command and control, architecture and relationship between strategic/political and joint levels. In addition to that they learned how the theoretical knowledge learned at the classroom is transferred into practice for conducting a Joint Operation in a multinational environment.
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