International Study Trip for Joint Command and General Staff Course

From 6th to 10th June, the students of the Joint Command and General Staff Course conducted an annual International Study Trip (IST) to enhance and deepen the knowledge gained during the Course. It enhanced awareness of the international security environment in the Wider Baltic Sea Region and the dynamics of multilateral and bilateral defence cooperation to boost regional security. For the IST, the Course was divided into two groups, and each group visited one country – Finland and Sweden.


The trip started with participation in the National Day celebrations of Sweden on 6th June at the King’s Palace. The ceremony of the changing of the Royal Guards was an admirable event for the students. Afterwards, the delegation headed to Vasa Museum, an astonishing maritime museum in Stockholm displaying the only almost fully intact 17th-century ship that has ever been salvaged. The 64-gun warship Vasa sank on her maiden voyage in 1628.

The second day started at the Swedish Defence University. After the welcoming brief by Brigadier General Fredrik Ståhlberg, the students had informative discussions on the security and defence policy, the total defence concept and military procurement processes. The visit was followed by the briefings by representatives of the Ministry of Defence on security policy, military capabilities, and operations. The Chief of Defence Staff of the Armed Forces of Sweden, Vice Admiral Jonas Haggren gave students an update about the current and future security situation, highlighting Sweden’s application for NATO membership and armed forces development.

The highlight of the week was a visit to the Saab AB, the Swedish aerospace and defence company, where in addition to the tour, students had an opportunity to try the shooting simulator. They also visited Swedish Defence Research Agency.

On the last day, the group visiting Sweden paid a visit to King’s Battalion (Livgardet). The Commander of the Battalion LTC Camilla Sjöhlén presented the complexity of the tasks her unit must perform daily. Livgardet is an infantry unit, additionally trained for official ceremonies and guarding the King's Castle. Students visited the morning drill and walked around the premises to see the stables and riding area. Afterwards, there was a case study discussion with BALTDEFCOL former staff member LTC Joakim Paasikivi (Swedish Army).


The first day of the trip was dedicated to the memorial event. On 5th June, honouring the memory of Finnish military leader and statesman Marshal of Finland Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, the group visiting Finland laid a wreath in the Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki.

The first part of the second day was dedicated to the strategic level. The students were welcomed by the various representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the Security Committee, the Hybrid Centre of Excellence etc. The discussions on Finnish defence policy, the structure, tasks, and priorities of the defence sector were highly appreciated. Afterwards, in the second part of the day, the briefings by the Finnish Defence Forces about command, conscript service, and voluntary defence training broadened students’ knowledge even further. It was followed by the introduction of the Finnish National Defence University, its aim and tasks, officers’ education, and research.

On the third day, the students visited “Patria” - an international provider of defence, security, and aviation life cycle support services, performing pilot training and technology solutions. Students learned more about the capabilities and services that the company can provide to the defence sector. The tour was followed by a visit to the Parola Armour Museum.

The following days were focused on the units and their introduction. First, the Karelia Brigade - the defender of South-Eastern Finland. The Brigade Commander delivered introductory remarks. Students had the opportunity to learn more about the Brigade's capabilities and tasks and observe a reservists' exercise in the Pahkajärvi training area and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialists' training.

In Nyland Brigade, the students learned more about brigades’ tasks and the training system of conscripts and reservists as well as got insight into the coastal defence capabilities. Later, the group visited “FORCIT Defence”, which is one of the leading suppliers of Insensitive Munition Defence Systems.

On the last day, the trip headed to the Naval Academy, which is located on Suomenlinna Island in Helsinki. The Commandant of the Academy delivered a presentation, which included the history of Finland and the tasks of the Academy. The Finnish group also discussed a case study and visited the War Museum.

During the IST, students gained a better understanding of the security challenges in the region from the perspective of selected countries and how it reflected in their defence policies, military thinking, and doctrines, including education and training. Moreover, cooperation with society, industries, the scientific community, and other non-state organizations and partners will be of great interest within the context of the comprehensive defence in the selected countries. It is the summary and culmination point of all topics of JCGSC education. The Course will hold its Graduation Ceremony on 16th June 2022.

The Baltic Defence College is extremely grateful to all the speakers, experts, officials, and high-level representatives for dedicating their time and sharing their knowledge with our students.


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