Gen Abols' farewell speech

Gen Abols' farewell speech

Dear Ministers, Excellencies, Generals, dear guests and Baltic Defence College Faculty and Directing Staff,

As it always happens in the military life, the 3 years of a duty appointment comes to end—and now it is my moment to end my service at the Baltic Defence College. I would like to recognize that three years of our common work together has passed by -- and today I will look back at what we have achieved during the years that I have commanded the Baltic Defence College.

But, before starting, I first wish to thank all the Baltic Defense College staff whose excellent support has been important during these three challenging years.

First of all, if we look back we can see that we started it all with a good foundation received from the founding father of the BALTDEFCOL General Michael Clemmensen and following Commandant Brigadier General Algis Vai?eli?nas. They developed the course structure and clear delivery targets for courses with four courses taught at the Baltic Defence College as the main activity of the College. During these last three years we have significantly improved in our manner of delivering the courses and built our work on a professional academic approach to military education. We made major changes in the evaluation system. It was not easy to implement a new system, but the changes have proven effective and they have been recognized as an improvement from an educational perspective. The changes that we have made have brought us in line with the best of Western academic standards.

I want to congratulate the BALTDEFCOL faculty and staff for these efforts and the other efforts that you all have made in improving the delivery of our courses. Together we have made some solid gains for the College! These changes have not been ignored by the educational community. Our senior mentors, guest speakers, and Academic Advisory board members have all noted and saluted the developments in our academic methods. This recognition and trust earned for our academic method is a good foundation for sustaining and the future development in the quality and standard of the education offered at the BALTDEFCOL.

What we have done here is in line with the wise policy guidelines provided by three Baltic ministers of Defense to meet their worthy goal of making the BALTDEFCOL an internationally recognized educational institution. A recognized and properly certified education is a very important tool for recognition of our past work, and also for our future work as we continue to receive foreign students for our courses, from countries whose participation is important for keeping up the quality of education of our college. Multinational involvement is key to the success and identity of the College from the time it was founded—and we need to sustain this and to continue the process of recognition and certification of our courses in other countries, as well in the NATO and EU formats and institutions.

As part of the improvements made in our academic delivery we need to recognize and acknowledge the success we have had in improving the way that we deliver our teaching. Part of this has been the introduction of system of a system of lesson plan integration in our daily academic life. This is well received in allied and partner staff colleges, universities and other institutions as a guaranty of high quality educational delivery.

We need to progress with the changes that we have begun in the BALTDEFCOL educational programme. We need to formalize the BALTDEFCOL System approach to training implementation which is now more established in allied countries and more easily carried out with the full implementation of the M-1-M4 series in our work procedures. We need to employ the method of external evaluation visits by our chief supporting countries that have been so helpful to us in the past and have formed the basis for the progress we have made. One of the key reasons for the success of the Baltic Defence College has been the support of our partner institutions that have helped us needed changes and improvements in the BALTDEFCOL educational procedures and achievement targets.

We have truly changed our way of delivering education and have made major improvements in applying new methods and systems in the BALTDEFCOL IT system—going hand in hand with the Estonian vision about IT society. I think the IT support has changed the life of the faculty and students for the better and has helped in how we deliver and teach in the BALTDEFCOL in enabling us to use the IT tools and support wherever we are.

At the same time, we have also changed and improved the support that the students at BALTDEFCOL receive—and this has been recognized by student community. In addition, advanced distance learning is coming to be a normal tool in the BALTDEFCOL education menu. This is a further indication of our growth as an institution of learning. Video telephone conferences with guest speakers have also been developed as a tool to connect to our faculty and students to other military institutions and this has become a normal part of our life in the last three years.

We have introduced new developments for supporting our arriving faculty members and developed professional development policies for them during they stay at the BALTDEFCOL. This is very important as we need to acknowledge that in order to recruit the best faculty in the future we need to have the right motivation and encouragement for a person to become a member of the BALTDEFCOL directing staff. To support this we need to look after each directing staff member’s self development and education during the whole period of his or her stay in Tartu. I am confident that we will continue this in the future and we need to take into account this continued development as we deal with the challenge of frequent faculty turnover, with most faculty changing in a two year period.

I need to say that there is and always will be room for improvement and adaptation and change—and we should never forget that principle as we proceed in further developing our educational programmes!

We have expanded of our cooperation activities with Baltic universities and other staff colleges, and now we need to continue to implement the joint activities that we have begun. During this three years we have hosted two courses of the European Security Defense College in Tartu city assisted with the support of the Austrian National Defense Academy and the UK Joint Service College. We have made the BALTDEFCOL name recognized also in the EU security environment.

During these last three years we have made progress in the BALTDEFCOL support issues. This progress is important to continue and finalize in the next two years as a signal to the countries that support the BALTDEFCOL that we look after our staff members and their families well. This year we received new living facilities in Ida Street thanks to the excellent support from the Estonian ministry of defense. We also need to thank Estonian ministry of Defense as well as the Estonian Minister of Education and Research, Tõnis Lukas, for the important developments and improvements in the international teaching in Tartu City. But this is still a work in progress and we need to move to the final stage of implementation. In moving ahead it is also very important to recognize the great support of Tartu Mayor Urmas Kruuse, and see that this progress in cooperation will also continue in the future.

I would like to thank you all of you at the BALTDEFCOL for the great support you have given me as your Commandant--- and I wish you all the best in the future in delivering the best possible education for the officers of the Baltic States and of other countries!

In end I would like to thank my family and especially my wife Liene for their support to me during my period of appointment as the BALTDEFCOL Commandant in Tartu.

Finally I would like to wish great success to incoming Commandant Brigadier General Meelis Kiili in continuing to promote the BALTDEFCOL and its courses and to win for the College even wider participation and recognition in future!
All of best to you-- and to all BALTDEFCOL faculty —in all your future endeavors.

Thank you very much!


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