From 8th to 12th of March 2021, the Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC) conducted the International Study Trip (IST) to explore NATO and the European Union (EU) security policies and their impact on the Baltic region. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year, the IST was conducted virtually, opening opportunities to visit more organizations, meet a broader range of high-level speakers and ‘travel’ across Europe and to reach the shores of the US.
IST gathered high-ranking NATO and EU officers, academics and representatives of different international organizations covering topics related to the security environment challenges and opportunities.
HCSC 2021 had an opportunity to meet all three Baltic States Military Representatives to NATO and the EU to actively discuss NATO Eastern Flank and the Baltic States security and defence, EU security and defence policy, EU-NATO cooperation and defence initiatives. During the virtual meetings, the Deputy Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum addressed the principles of NATO, hybrid challenges, future threats and the importance of strategic leadership. For a closer look at the challenges of the NATO Southern Flank, students had a chance to virtually visit Allied Joint Force Command Naples, NATO Strategic Direction South Hub, Italian Ministry of Defence General Staff and Institute for Global Studies. Exploration of the EU security policies included meetings with the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee and representatives of EU Military Staff to get an update about European Security and Defence Policy and on current EU led military operations. It covered intelligence processes and challenges to crisis management and decision making. The HCSC had a chance to meet with the researcher of the EU Institute for Security Studies, who introduced transatlantic and European security and defence, as well as EU-NATO cooperation and defence initiatives.
During the IST, the team of experts of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats provided an in-depth analysis about hybrid threats and methods, main actors and their modus-operandi, vulnerabilities of democratic societies and ways of countering hybrid threats. With a closer look at Professional Military Education, students met the NATO Defence College team and gained knowledge about College activities, courses, educational principles, research, and outreach activities. In respect to NATO capability building, procurements and life cycle management students met with representatives of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency.
HSCS students gained additional perspective on current and future challenges at the EU' external borders, focusing on the migration aspect by visiting FRONTEX (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency). Finally, considering the forthcoming security perspective, the HCSC team met ACT Strategic Foresight and Future Framework Branch’s experts, who made an overview of NATO future concepts and capabilities to face an evolving security environment.
During the week, HCSC students experienced seventeen interesting, engaging and fruitful meetings that contributed to learning objectives supporting their professional development.