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REGIONAL APPROACHES TO DEFENCE EDUCATION

Speech at PfPC Annual Conference George C. Marshal Center, Garmisch, Germany

Education can serve many purposes, but defence education system stands out with its focus on security thinking and its capacity to deliver. Products of this system - defence and security leadership - are in charge of Armed Forces but also security policies and they make up one of the most important components of the societys identity. Hence, the quality defence education matters for the Armed Forces readiness and the entire societys behavior as such. In turn, these are connected with the role of the society in the international system, and its aptitude to take part in regional and international security. Accordingly, we may define the role of defence education as a guarantor of the quality of Armed Forces, and a shaper of the societys identity and behavior of the nation.

Its general importance notwithstanding, defence education is, first of all, focused on the requirements of the AF, which is a very complex organization and needs balanced development of all of its segments. For instance, it is impossible to focus only on tactics or operations or strategy issues. AF needs it all and it is unity of all constituents that guarantee the quality of the forces. Holistic approach is critical here.

In Georgia, and in all other states which gained or regained independence when Soviets collapsed, challenges exist everywhere. During the years of independence, nations managed to deal with these challenges with different levels of success. Lack of skills, knowledge and resources were the most visible obstacles on this road. For example, Georgian defence sphere was terribly underdeveloped before the Rose Revolution. Because of ill-managed

statehood, the government had no intention and resources to commit to this field. Rose revolution has brought dramatic changes, but with that, new challenges also arrived. Just to compare, funding increased from few millions to hundreds of millions in as short as 2 years after 2003, and manning of the army has followed this trend. Today we have few brigades instead of few battalions, which are better equipped and taken care, but it is obvious that the quality cannot be guaranteed at all occasions, and numbers cannot guarantee quality.

We are very grateful of friends because the swiftest change in attitude we have witnessed after the Rose Revolution was dramatic increase of slots for Georgian students in respective national universities. There is no doubt that this helped us much in having better prepared personnel in the defence domain too, but creation of a critical mass is a responsibility of the national education system and this is why an internal capacity building has been recognized as a priority.

Because proper decisions require proper experience and this always take some time, we spent years in convulsive efforts to develop our AF. Today, Georgian MoD has clear understanding of the need of balanced development and the importance of advance planning. Education has been declared the first priority for the years to come. Most of the resources and efforts, those of our own and of foreign assistance, are now directed on education.

As a result, we have manifest progress. The first to mention is a 4yr Cadet Bachelor School (CABS) which we officially launched by the end of past year and were faced with the highest competition rate nation-wide. Of course, it was not being established on an empty place. We had previous experience of a 4yr school, and we were retaining separate courses of instruction for lieutenants across the branches of service. Now we combine these courses into a Junior Officers Basic School (JOBS) which integrates entire military instruction of the respective level and is considered a military instruction provider for CABS. Also, it prepares and provides special courses to retrain those active service officers who lack military education.

Likewise, the courses of captain level instruction have now been transformed into a Captains Career School (CACS) and it trains captains and majors of about 10 to 12 years of service. The aim of the school is to prepare company commanders and battalion staff officers across the branches of service.

Another novelty for Georgian defence education system is the pilot CGS Course which has been launched in January. The course prepares battalion commanders and upper level staff officers with capabilities of planning, preparation and assessment of operations on battalion and brigade level.

Duration of the course is 6 months and it is developed jointly with the US-contractor. The program consists of 2 blocks and 7 modules. The General block includes an introductory course, leadership, defence and Security and Military history modules. The Operations block includes modules of war fighting fundamentals, battalion operations and brigade operations.

Starting next year, it is planned to transform the course into a school, by adding modules on NATO, management and training, multinational environment, and nonconventional operations. The CGSS will be a part of Command and General Staff College (CGSC) which will also include the School of Advanced Defence Studies (SADS).

Clearly, training in operational arts and strategic issues is still lacking. As in many other post-soviet states, instructors in operations planning and strategy do not abound.

School of Advanced Defence Studies is meant to address these very problems. It should educate high level commanders able to plan and execute high leverage operations in defence and security policy. The school should provide students with strong background in strategic analysis, decision making, organization theory, operational arts and formal analytical methods.

We intend to open the school in 2012. Four programs intended for military and civilian students include Defence Analysis, European Security, Defence Resources Management, and Cyber security. We are now working to develop curricula for these programs, while working very closely with NATO/DEEP on issues such as faculty development, curricula development, and faculty and student exchange. The universities we currently work with on partnership priorities include Polish, Czech and Romanian Defence Universities, the Baltic Defence College, US National Defence University with i-College included in the loop, Naval Postgraduate School, CA, and Georgia Technical University. Also, we have initiated preliminary talks with the universities of Hamburg in Germany, and Cranfield in Shrievenham, UK.

Abovementioned schools will contribute to complete entire officer education system in Georgia and guarantee the quality education at all levels of command. It is doubtless that once streamlined, defence education system will have direct influence on the quality and readiness of the Armed Forces of the country.

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However, there is something else we understand. Years of democratic development combined with bitter experiences of covert and overt wars with Russia made our society believe that not just sheer force, but also partnership and friendship is something that can well defend the nation. There are dramatic changes in the perceptions of the society today. People are much better prepared to overcome mythologies and live rational lives. Demands to militaries have also become more rational. Public opinion now asks for less loud words and better quality, deeper integration with NATO and visible results and accomplishments on this way.

Another very significant change is that historical mythologies play much lesser role now in the nations identity where current priorities start to prevail. As a society, now we are strongly convinced that the domestic and regional grievances are counterproductive; that we better orient ourselves on future, that domestic security cannot be guaranteed without regional security, and that true strategic leadership is to maintain peace, not just to lead in battles. In essence, maintaining peace is the key mandate to the militaries. While public opinion has been much divided in the past about the scenarios of regaining control over our occupied territories, now almost nobody questions the need for more diplomacy and peaceful policies in this regard. Ultimate function of militaries that the public opinion assigns to them is defence of independence.

Of course, in Georgia and elsewhere in our strenuous societies much of these changes remain on the level of instincts and security concerns. We may keep in mind that we are talking of the societies who have lived centuries without direct responsibility in state-building and its affairs. Therefore, when elites managed to gain the independence, general nationalist agendas of the large parts of these societies made them supportive to these ideas, but they also risked failing their statehood because they were ill-prepared to succeed.

Mentioned state affairs have many different dimensions and on big part, this is consensus of the society. But without common knowledge and experience achievement of consensus is impossible. It is very important to know the rules by which the reality can be interpreted, and it is very important to have shared values and interests to agree on these rules. Social scientists, and especially the ones who master identities, would agree that interests are largely shaped by the security considerations, and the dividing lines are drawn between those who differ in their angles of perception of security.

Commonly accessible defence education is very important on this way of approximation between our societies. We need to develop our defence systems in a way that they are not alarming to those we want to make friends with. We need to be open for partners and push the idea of regional security and partnership as much as we can.

Hence, we want to make defence education an important tool for regional diplomacy. To make this happen, we decided to open our education system wherever technically possible. Of course, we fully realize that quality will be a decisive issue for partners to decide and send students in our schools. But we are open not just for students but also for instructors and professors. Of course, it is assured that problems will exist on this way but we believe in success because we trust in efforts and goodwill.

Just to be better understood on where this partnership is possible, let me provide few examples. One is our CACS of which the infantry course is now trying to get PfP accreditation and become a regional center. You may know that we already have an accredited Mountain Training Center with already good record of regional cooperation. So we want to follow suit and repeat the same wherever we can. Most importantly, well do the same in our SADS. It will be open for professors and students from elsewhere in the region, and of course we ask for very intensive assistance to our partners in the West to support us guarantee the quality of instruction in this school. Regional Doctoral School will be our similar undertaking which we plan to launch from 2013, and our Language Training School is just another example to name.

I will not elaborate further on these plans now. Let me say that the decisions Ive just described are very firm and we very much hope to find support in the region and in the eyes of our partners in Europe and USA. Let me finish on this positive and optimistic note. I very much hope that our joint endeavors will help us foster the spirit of peace and partnership in our region and elsewhere in our globalized world.

Andro Barnovi Rector National Defence Academy of Georgia 23 June 2011