NATO Defence College in Rome – 60 years of educating leaders (w/subtitles)

October 8, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski

For 60 years the NATO Defence College has
been educating officers, civilian officials and diplomats for key functions within NATO
and related to NATO. In 1951, its founding father, General Eisenhower,
envisioned an institution that would foster a strategic level exchange on political and
military matters. Lieutenant General Wolf-Dieter Loeser, the current Commander of the College,
explains: “In addition to that he had also in mind
to contribute to the integration of the alliance, to the human interoperability factor of all
the participants coming from different countries.” The idea of enhancing human interoperability,
that is to empower people from diverse cultures and backgrounds to work together, is at the
heart of everything the college does. Established in Paris and later moved to Rome
– its mission is based on three pillars: Education, Research and Outreach. The education division conducts several strategic-level
courses, the most prestigious and longest is the Senior Course which lasts 5 ½ months.
The research division develops objective, policy-relevant publications.
Outreach activities include inviting students, cooperationg with Universities and National
Defence Academies, AND of course: “Partnering with other organizations in
the world like the Mediterranean dialogue, North African countries or even more because
of the mission in Afghanistan with countries in Asia like Japan, Australia and so on.” “How do you see the relationship between
NATO and the UN evolving given…(fade out)” To stay relevant the College has had to constantly
change and adapt which can best be seen in the Senior Course. “The composition of the course members has
changed a lot over the years. We started with a few countries in NATO in 51 and we are now
in this course for instance we are having people from 32 countries, not only from NATO
but from other areas.” In the early years the focus was on the cold
war challenges and military issues directly on the border of NATO countires. Today’s
security challenges call for a much broader focus. “The dimension of all these problems is
wider than it was ever before, so it’s not only military the security dimension but more
than ever it has an economic and also a cultural dimension. So if you see what we have to face
in Afghanistan, what we face in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, there are many more dimensions
that are necessary to take into account to solve these challenges.” There are more than 7.000 alumni from the
Senior Course and over 100 from the Middle East course. As was the intention 60 years
ago they have all contributed to understanding the different perspectives of partner nations. “We talk about for instance cultural differences,
about differences in prejudices and misperceptions and how we are doing things. And then its
very important the work in the committee. And that is key and what we are doing there
is that we try to educate them and to bring them to build consensus and consensus is a
basic principal for NATO so it has to be achieved also in committees with people from partner
countries. So they have to agree even though they are coming from different directions
perhaps and educational backgrounds, they have to agree on certain issues.” Finally one of the biggest advantages of this
relatively young Roman institution is that it serves as a test bed for ideas helping
also to transform and develop the alliance as it moves forward. “In an academic environment you can bring
the people together, you can say what you think under Chatham House Rules and it’s
not a political podium or arena. So for instance when we bring together here people from Arab
countries, from Israel and NATO countries they can really openly discuss issues and
we can see in what direction these partnerships can develop.”