Baltic Defence College 15th Anniversary

Baltic Defence College 15th Anniversary

On 27 February 2014 the Baltic Defence College celebrated its 15th Anniversary. The Baltic Defence College was established in 1999 by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuanian and participating and supporting Nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Now the college is mutually owned, financed and jointly managed by the ministries of defence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Baltic Defence College has developed since its establishment in 1999 as a regional education and research institution. With its key focus on the education of future mili¬tary and civil leaders, the college counts almost one-thousand graduates from thirty-nine different countries. Although two-thirds of graduates come from the Baltic Countries, the emphasis on NATO procedures and standards, English as the working language, daily experiences of different cultures make the Baltic Defence College attractive for other Allied and European Union states, as well as outreach countries. Besides, closer integration of military of¬ficers and civil servants foster better mutual understanding and creates the preconditions for the implementation of a comprehensive approach to overcome an increasingly uncertain security environment.

‘Our College has become a very important link in the overall professional military education system of the Baltic defence establishments. […] The College will continue to develop the education it provides using the principles of Smart Defence, pooling and sharing not only material but intellectual capital from different countries. […] The Baltic defence College will play a significant role in connecting our forces, building human interoperability of the minds of the military and civilian personnel from the three Baltic States, as well as our Allies and Partners. […] the Baltic Defence College is and will be the place where future leaders learn to operate, cooperate and fight together. We will ensure that it remains a future- oriented, progressive, attractive and competitive military education institution well into the future.’, said Major General Vitalijus Vaikšnoras, Commandant, opening the official celebration.

Commandant of the Baltic Defence College Major General Vitalijus Vaikšnoras opening the 15th Official Anniversary ceremony

The 15th College Anniversary was commemorated by a conference, devoted to the future of the defence education and the official anniversary ceremony which was attended by many distinguished visitors from almost twenty countries. The Ceremony was opened by honouring the Baltic Defence College colours and anthem.

Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian students from Joint Command and General Staff Course bring in the Baltic Defence College flag

H.E. Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia in his speech on the college anniversary emphasised the importance of education to military officers: ’[…] Working together and building our skills in the Baltic Defence College, we have created a pool of qualified officers capable of dealing with that future – with future threats and challenges to our common security environment. […] Knowledge and competence are keys to success in military organisations. An army without educated officers is not an army, it is just a group of armed men.’

H.E. Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia, speaking on the 15th Anniversary event of the Baltic Defence College

Mr. Urmas REINSALU, Minister of Defence, Republic of Estonia, emphasised that ‘The past has taught us that to survive we have to invest into our security. […] The security balance is not developing in favour of our region. And it needs to be balanced by our capabilities to deliver more in our region. [...] And the Baltic Defence College should be part of that message to help give that message abroad.’

Mr. Urmas REINSALU Minister of Defence, Republic of Estonia, addressed the audience on the 15th Anniversary event of the Baltic Defence College

Mr Andrejs PANTEĻEJEVS, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Republic of Latvia in his speech said that ‘The Baltic Defence College reflects the tremendous ambition of our three nations. […] This collect is a symbol of aspirations of continuous development and growth. […] The college has grown not only in quantity but also quality. […] We confirm our commitment to the Baltic Defence College so we can continue to enhance our collective security.’

Mr Andrejs PANTEĻEJEVS, Parliamentary Secretary, of the Latvian Ministry of Defence, addressed the audience on the 15th Anniversary event of the Baltic Defence College

Lieutenant General Raimonds GRAUBE, Commander of the Latvian National Armed Forces stressed that ‘For soldiers, it is essential to have strong leaders to look up to and be inspired by. In this sense, the Baltic Defence College plays a very important role in sharpening the minds of our officers. […] Each officer who leaves the Baltic Defence College is both more knowledgeable and shows greater camaraderie when he or she begins a new mission.’

Lieutenant General Raimonds GRAUBE, Commander of the Latvian National Armed Forces speaking on the 15th Anniversary event of the Baltic Defence College

Mr Antanas VALYS, Vice Minister, Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania said that ‘Today we are celebrating the anniversary of the Baltic Defence College, which began as a small initiative, and which has emerged as one of the greatest multinational initiatives of military cooperation. This ceremony marks a turning point in the Baltic Defence College’s life, as it moves from a child to an adolescent in the education of Baltic officers. […] During this fifteen years, the Baltic Defence College has made considerable advances, with several new courses created.’

Mr Antanas VALYS, Lithuanian Vice Minister of National Defence, addressing the audience at the 15th anniversary ceremony of the Baltic Defence College

The last official speech was delivered by Major Kaspars Pudāns, Latvian Army, a student from the Joint Command and general Staff Course, who shared his experiences and insights about the multinationality of the college and importance of the professional military education for officers, the need of which only grows with years. 

The speeches of the dignitaries were followed by the medal award ceremony. For the outstanding and exceptional contribution and support to the College, Baltic Defence College Medal of Merit Gold was presented to Estonian Chief of Defence Major General Riho Terras.

Medal award ceremony was followed by the award of the Honorary Fellowship of the Baltic Defence College – a newly established tradition at the College. Three academics: Dr. Margarita Šešelgytė, Dr. Artis Pabriks and Dr. Rene Värk, from the three Baltic states were awarded the fellowship, based on their personal input to the development of the College.

Dr. Margarita Šešelgytė, Faculty of International Relations, University of Vilnius, has served in the College. After leaving the College she has remained a strong friend and supporter, lecturing at the College every year and regularly attending College conferences and seminars. She serves on the editorial board of the Baltic Security and Defence Review.

Dr. Artis Pabriks, Riga International School of Economics and Business, from the start became an enthusiastic supporter of the idea of a MA program and he ensured the Latvian National Defence Academy cooperation and partnership.

Dr. Rene Värk, Faculty of Law, Tartu University, has consistently been rated as one of the best visiting lecturers by the students. He has been a contributor to the Baltic Security and Defence Review, writing an article on military aspects of law that was republished and is used by several staff colleges.

The participants were entertained during interludes in ceremony by musical renderings of the Lithuanian Voluntary National Defence Forces Big Band. All attending the anniversary enjoyed the popular music stylings of his talented group.

Lithuanian Voluntary National Defence Forces Big Band

The official Anniversary ceremony ended with a reception where distinguished guests, current and former students and staff members had a chance to get to together and discuss the differences of the current and former education, and also to foster the network that has been established in the college years before.  


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