Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BALTDEFCOL 10th Anniversary

Kristīne Atmante, BALTDEFCOL instructor from 2003 to 2007.
Photo by Normunds Mežiņš, BALTDEFCOL archive.

Ten years ago when the Baltic States were not part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union a decision was made to establish the Baltic Defense College (BALTDEFCOL). In the first years BALTDEFCOL trained officers to plan and execute military operations in accordance with the principles of total defense. Now, for approximately seven years, the college trains the principles of planning NATO operations and uses scenarios consistent with NATO missions and operations, for example, they have put together a training block on combat tactics of irregular forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first Senior Staff Course had only 32 students from eight countries, but in 2008, 64 students from 19 countries graduated from the Joint Staff Course. At the beginning the college had only one course; now it organizes four different courses for military personnel and civilians, as well as high-level conferences and seminars. In ten years the number of graduates, military personnel and civilians, has reached 628.

BALTDEFCOL establishment and development

Although in the late nineties the Baltic States had their own military academies, a decision was made to form a joint defense college for these three countries. The idea of forming the college belonged primarily to Brigadier General Michael Clemmesen, Denmark’s military attaché in the Baltic States. He believed that the best investment in developing Baltic defense capabilities was developing personnel and training the Baltic officers in accordance with western standards and military leadership principles. Baltic States had the goal of joining NATO, but it was clear that they lacked knowledge and expertise to train NATO procedures and there were very few officers with operational experience. Michael Clemmesen actively lobbied this idea in the Baltic States and received support from Sweden to create the college. Sweden also assumed political leadership of the project. In recognition for Sweden’s support, the largest auditorium of the BALTDEFCOL is named after Björn von Sydow, Sweden’s Minister of Defense. (...)

The full article read in a military journal "Tevijas Sargs"

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