From 13th to 16th of October 2019, the students of the Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) are visiting the capitals of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as part of the Baltic Defence Study Trip (BDST). This visit is an integral and important part of the course curriculum, providing the students an opportunity to stay connected to realities of regional security and defence matters.
During the trip, each of the three groups of students and faculty is tackling one capital of the Baltic Defence College Framework Nations. In doing so, the participants will deepen their knowledge about the visited country’s defence policy, decision-making principles and defence planning priorities. All groups will share the knowledge acquired during backbrief presentations after the trip.
The group visiting Estonian defence institutions consists of 20 students and 5 faculty members that all together represent 8 nations. On the first day of the trip, they visited NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Estonia and Tapa Garrison - home of the Estonian Defence Forces' 1st Infantry Brigade.
The first day of group 'Latvia' was spent in the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia Saeima where the delegation received briefing from various committees and subcommittees.
On Monday, 13th of October, the students from Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Ukraine, Switzerland, Germany and Italy visited the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania Seimas and Ministry of National Defence (MoND). During meetings with Parliament, MoND and the Defence Staff representatives, the students received briefings on political, military, personnel and administrative aspects of defence policy, as well as defence budget, armed forces structure and strategic communication plans and challenges.
Day 2 of BDST:
Team ‘Estonia’ continued their trip in Tallinn. In the morning, the team visited the Parliament of Estonia and talked to the representatives of National Defence Committee. The delegation spent the rest of the day in Naval Base where they received briefings by the Ministry of Defence and Estonian Defence Forces officials and had very direct and frank discussions about defence planning issues. To conclude the day, the team visited Estonian Maritime Museum in Seaplane Harbour.
The group visited Latvian Ministry of Defence (MoD) where they received briefings from the representatives of MoD, Latvian National Armed Forces and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia.
On Tuesday, the students visited the Iron Wolf Brigade and NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania. The students had a chance to acquire a better knowledge about the development, training and equipment of the brigade. The German-led NATO Battlegroup presented their capabilities and contribution to the security of the region.
Day 3 of BDST:
On 16th of October, team ‘Estonia’ visited the Estonian Air Force. Among other presentations, they also received an 'Air Policing' briefing delivered by LTC Pavel „Speedy“ Pavlík, Commander of Czech Air Force detachment in Baltic Air Policing mission. The Czech Air Force took over NATO air policing duties in September 2019 and this is their first time in Ämari Air Base. The briefings were followed by a tour in Ämari Air Base that concluded the study trip and the team headed home to Tartu to prepare the back brief for their coursemates.
Team 'Latvia' last day of the BDST was spent in Ādaži Military Base. They were briefed about the mission, tasks and future developments of Multinational Division North (MND N), Latvian Land Forces Mechanized Infantry Brigade and NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia. The team ended their study trip with a tour through Camp Ādaži. Taking the occasion, Commandant of the Baltic Defence College Major General Andis Dilans met with MND N Chief of Staff Brigadier General Lennie Fredskov Hansen.
On the last day of the trip, the students in Lithuania had a chance to visit the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai. The Danish and Belgian contingents serving in Šiauliai gave an overview about the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission and students had a great opportunity to inspect the F-16 fighter jet.