2nd Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABC/D)


On 18-19 September, Baltic Defence College hosted the 2nd Annual Baltic Conference on Defence, co-organized together with the ministries of defence of the three Baltic states and entitled “NATO in Afghanistan – facing the shortfalls and measuring success”. The event was attended by policymakers, military officers, defence analysts, academics and media representatives from Afghanistan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as from NATO and the EU structures. Higher Command Studies Course of the Baltic Defence College also was present during the conference.


The opening words were presented by the Estonian Minister of Defence Dr. Jaak Aaviksoo who reminded us the importance of understanding why NATO has been involved in Afghanistan and how crucial it is not to misinterpret its objectives. Welcoming speech was also given by the Commandant of the Baltic Defence College, Brigadier General Algis Vaiceliunas. Conference was held in three panels. The first panel was moderated by Ambassador Harri Tiido, Undersecretary for Political Affairs of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and focused on political objectives for the Alliance in Afghanistan. The keynote speakers of the panel were General Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, who addressed the audience on the political and security challenges for NATO in Afghanistan, and Mr. Peter C. F. Flory, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investments, who talked about the impact of the campaign in Afghanistan on the defence transformation within the Alliance. NATO’s political and strategic vision for Afghanistan was outlined by Mr. Diego A. Ruiz Palmer, Head of Planning Section, Operations Division, NATO IS. Mr. Hekmat Karzai, Director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies from Afghanistan, provided analysis of situation in his country and discussed future prospects. Mr. David van Weel, Special Policy Advisor of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, highlighted NATO’s performance in Southern Afghanistan and placed emphasis on the need to manage expectations of various constituencies. Panel discussions were led by Dr. Stephen J. Flanagan, Senior Vice President of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, United States. The second panel concentrated on the issues surrounding international cooperation in Afghanistan and was moderated by Ambassador Imants Liegis, Latvia’s representative on the EU Political and Security Council (PSC). The panel started with the presentations of Mr. Ronald Harmsma, NATO Deputy Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, and Mr. Kenneth Deane, Deputy Head of EUPOL Mission in Afghanistan, who covered the international cooperation from NATO and EU perspectives respectively. Brigadier General Jean-Marc Laurent, Deputy Director of Delegation for Strategic Affairs of the Ministry of Defence of France, discussed NATO-EU cooperation from a member state perspective. Mr. Abdul Malik Quraishi, Director of Policy and Oversight, Office of National Security Council of Afghanistan, and Major General Payenda Mohammad Nazem, Deputy Assistant Minister for Strategy and Policy, Ministry of Defence of Afghanistan, introduced the relationship between Afghanistan’s government and the international community. Mr. Rory Stewart, Chief Executive of Turquoise Mountain Foundation, offered insights to the day-to-day life in Afghanistan and demonstrated how different the perceptions of the situation and of the Alliance’s efforts are in various constituencies in Afghanistan and outside it. Panel discussion was led by Dr. Julian Lindley-French, Professor of Military Operational Science of the Netherlands Defence Academy. The third panel, moderated by Ambassador Ginte Damusis, National Coordinator for Afghanistan at the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ocused on provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) and their operational experiences. Ambassador David Slinn, Head of the UK-led PRT Lashkar Gah, discussed whether the PRTs should be manned and led mostly by the civilians. Colonel Almantas Leika, Course Director of the BALTDEFCOL Higher Command Studies Course, analysed operational and strategic lessons from Lithuania-led PRT Ghor, which he commanded at the end of 2006 – start of 2007. Lieutenant Colonel Frank Sturek of the US Army shared his experiences and insights from conducting counterinsurgency campaign in Southern Afghanistan. Finally, Ms Christa Meindersma, Head of Conflict Management Programme of the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, outlined best practices of post-conflict reconstruction and development. Panel discussion was led by Colonel (retired) Stephen Appleton, President of Appleton Consulting Inc and Visiting Senior Mentor of the BALTDEFCOL Higher Command Studies Course.


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