Posted by: Jason Tudor, PAO | 22/07/2010

Zwischen multinationalem Dialog und Verständigung

(Editor’s Note: This blog is written by German army 2nd Lt. André Schroeder, who is interning with the Marshall Center’s Public Affairs Office.)

Ein sechswöchiges Praktikum erscheint an sich als ausreichende Zeit, um einen Einblick in die Arbeit einer Praktikumsstelle zu gewinnen. Anders am George C. Marshall Europäisches Zentrum für Sicherheitsstudien. Schon die ersten Stunden bzw. Tage an ihm und damit verbunden die ersten Eindrücke, lassen erwarten, dass die mutmaßlich adäquate Praktikumsdauer alles andere als hinreichend ist, um diese faszinierende Einrichtung im vollen Umfang kennenzulernen.

Dabei gibt es genug Informationen über das Marshall Center um sich vorab ein kleines Bild zu machen. Meine Ankunft in Garmisch-Partenkirchen an jenem warmen Sommertag verriet jedoch, dass ich kaum wirklich etwas über diese Einrichtung wusste und machte im gleichen Augenblick Lust darauf, so vieles mehr zu erfahren. Der erste Eindruck wurde versüßt durch den wundervollen Blick, den man auf die Alpen hat – da bin ich nun, an einem Ort, an dem andere Menschen Urlaub machen. Die Hektik der Urlaubshochsaison zieht sich indes durch ganz Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Doch fühle ich, dass sie das Marshall Center unberührt lässt. So erscheint mir der Ort in nahezu unmittelbarer Nähe zur Zugspitze als besonders friedlich.

Dieser Gedanke wird durch Gespräche mit einem der internationalen Mitarbeiter des Centers oder einem Lehrgangsteilnehmer bestätigt. Herzlichkeit, kollegiales Verhalten, Offenheit und Unbefangenheit sind dabei die ersten Eindrücke, die ich in diesen Tagen gewinnen konnte. Sie sind wichtige Voraussetzungen für den Auftrag des Marshall Centers; unter dessen Lehrgangsteilnehmern Dialog und Verständigung zu fördern und damit einen aktiven Beitrag zu einer friedvolleren Welt zu leisten.

Der Begriff Dialog setzt dabei die Notwendigkeit voraus, dass nicht nur gesprochen sondern auch zugehört wird. Das Wort Verständigung beinhaltet den Begriff Verständnis. Die Fähigkeit also, sich in jemanden oder einer Sache hineinzuversetzen, Gründe für bestimmte Positionen und Meinungen zu erkennen, in Verbindung mit dem festen Willen zur Dialogführung, sind die Ziele, die das Marshall Center offensichtlich umzusetzen bemüht ist.

Wie das geschieht, möchte ich im Rahmen meines Praktikums erfahren. Eines habe ich bereits erkannt und zwar, dass die Zusammenarbeit zwischen Deutschen und Amerikanern in dieser bilateral angelegten Einrichtung weit über Begriffe wie Dialog und Verständigung hinausgeht. Aus meinen bisherigen Beobachtungen sind es Worte wie Vertrautheit bis hin zu Freundschaft, die dieses Verhältnis am besten bezeichnen. Wenn also nur ein geringer Teil davon auf die Lehrgangsteilnehmer überspringt, erscheint der Auftrag des Marshall Centers bereits erfüllt.

Posted by: Rebecca Seawell | 19/07/2010

GCMC program prepares today’s leaders

(Editor’s Note: This blog is written by Public Affairs intern Rebecca Seawell, who joined the Marshall Center in July.)

Last week, Marshall Center Director Dr. John Rose invited me to attend his lecture, which also serves as an icebreaker and introduction to the Program for Security, Stability, Transition and Reconstruction. As I took my seat, the contrast struck me; here we were, in a room that was easily 75 degrees, attending a lecture titled “The Iceberg Brief.”

What the director’s iceberg symbolized is the challenges program participants and leaders will face in their own nations. Rose explained that, as leaders, they will be expected to make quick decisions with very little information (the tip of the iceberg). And they will also be expected to make the right decision.

These issues could include global pandemics, WMD proliferation, migration, global warming/climate change, energy security or cyber security.

“Past solutions aren’t going to work,” Rose said. “Some of these problems are new to us, and we can’t just look at what happened in the past and say it’s going to happen again.”

This year’s second SSTaR class contains 44 students from 25 nations.  For the next few weeks, the six women and 38 men from Europe, Eurasia, North America and 10 out-of-region participants will learn about a number of topics, including multinational collaboration and economic reconstruction.

Their goal: “To forge a common understanding of the challenges, identify realistic possibilities for constructive assistance and develop a basis for more effective international and inter-agency cooperation.”

“I really do believe that we, as leaders – and you, as leaders of your country – need to think strategically about these issues,” Rose said.

Rose ended his briefing with a challenge to program participants: “Don’t believe what you read and what you hear – find out for yourself what the facts are.”

Posted by: Rebecca Seawell | 15/07/2010

Marshall Center sponsors Distinguished Alumni Conference

(Editor’s Note: This blog is written by Public Affairs intern Rebecca Seawell, who joined the Marshall Center in July.)

This weekend I had the opportunity to travel about an hour and a half away to a Distinguished Alumni conference sponsored by the Marshall Center. Alumni from 21 nations, including ministers, ambassadors, and other high-level representatives, gathered to discuss the NATO’s New Strategic Plan.

After participants arrived, everyone had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner and a scene-setting speech by Joseph McMillan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, who outlined the topic of discussion for the next day’s events.

But other pressing matters were at hand – more specifically, the most watched sporting event of the year. “I realize I only have 29 minutes and 20 seconds until the World Cup kick-off,” McMillan joked. And although serious discussion still arose, participants gathered together to cheer on their respective teams in the hotel’s lounge later that evening.

Though there was some time for fun and games, alumni had a busy day ahead of them. Their schedule consisted of three discussion panels, followed by closing remarks by the center’s director, Dr. John Rose. The panels created an opportunity for representatives from different countries — many of whom had differing viewpoint — to formally discuss an important topic.

Informally, alumni connected with each other during coffee breaks. And although one southern European participant may have disagreed with a Baltic alumnus about what NATO’s main focus should be, they may have discovered that they had other things in common, such as cheering for Spain the night before.

During the closing remarks, one participant said he appreciates Marshall Center conferences because the events give participants a stronger feeling of identity as Marshall Center alumni.

And while dialogue is important, I discovered – and alumni rediscovered – the significance of building networks through the Marshall Center.

Posted by: Rebecca Seawell | 08/07/2010

First impressions, dialogue and you

(Editor’s Note: This blog is written by Public Affairs intern Rebecca Seawell, who joined the Marshall Center in July.)

I still remember the first time I heard about the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. I was listening to the Armed Forces Network radio show, and heard the Marshall Center infomercial. Curious, I researched the center and found a great deal of information about the center’s outreach programs and academics. The sheer amount of information overwhelmed me and I found it difficult to define what the Marshall Center was all about.

Now that I am actually here, I find it easier to comprehend the focus of the center. Simply put, the center enables dialogue despite diversity in the hope of a better future.

I discovered the importance of dialogue on my first day. I conversed with the public affairs staff, members of the center staff, and Germans who live here. I gathered the facts I craved: how to get to work without getting lost; the number of countries the center’s programs include (110 to date); how many different nations are represented on the Marshall Center staff (11); and the available languages for participants (English, Russian and German).

Inspired by those around me and my own perceptions, I concluded that the center acts as a safe haven for both expression and conversation between course participants. Located in the Bavarian Alps, where the view outside is postcard-perfect, I can’t imagine anyone feeling unwelcome. But the real beauty of the center is that it creates an opportunity for its students which, in different circumstances, might never occur at all. 

The Marshall Center also creates the opportunity for more intricate forms of dialogue – the exchange of ideas, opinions and discussions aimed at conflict-resolution. An open forum exists here for students to better understand one another; for nations in conflict to learn more about one another; and, most importantly, for the possibility of a peaceful future.

In learning more about workings of the Marshall Center, I discovered that the stress on dialogue is not unwarranted. Not only does it take place in the classrooms, but also at events such as Culture Night, where students can learn about and explore the cultures of their colleagues. Dialogue also takes place between Americans and the German community surrounding the center.

Dialogue is happening right now.

And as I begin my internship here, I hope to begin a diablogue, or the exchange of ideas and opinions through this forum and others, including regular email, our Facebook page, our Twitter feed and more.

During my stay, I hope to further discover what the Marshall Center embodies in the community and to its students. I also share the Marshall Center’s message through dialogue with those around me –and diablogue, with you.

Posted by: Jason Tudor, PAO | 12/03/2010

Wrap-up of the PTSS trip to Israel

(Editor’s Note: Jason Tudor, GCMC Public Affairs Specialist, blogged all week from Israel. He traveled with the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies field studies trip March 5-11. This is his final entry. Students and many lecturers cannot be identified due to the nature of their professions.)

In wrapping up our trip to Israel, I need to give you the highlights from out final three stops. I also need to summarize the trip. I’ll do both.

First, the Golan Heights:

  • We were taken to a number of spots in the Golan Heights, including one spot about 1 km from the Syrian border. From there we could see the United Nations checkpoint. My wireless phone was able to see several carrier companies in Jordan, Syria, Israel and a Palestinian company.
  • Our tour guide took us to a number of memorial sites through the region. One of the sites included a memorial to 73 Israeli soldiers that died in helicopter crashes near the Lebanon border in 1997. At the time it was Israel’s worst military air disaster. Our tour guide was also the commander of those soldiers who died.
  • Around former battle sites, there are areas surrounded by barbed wire and yellow signs indicating live mine fields. Our tour leader said the fields are simply too expensive to clean up. Fencing them off is the best solution right now.
  • We stopped at a border crossing. The checkpoint was at a town called Ghajar under dispute by the Lebanese and the Israelis. There were several humvees that rolled by and the checkpoint seemed particularly stout. Now imagine 85 people just off two large buses with point-and-shoot cameras acting like tourists there.
  • You gain a sense of what happened by seeing the country side, the hills and all the check points. Of course, when you combine that with this overwhelming sense of history in that region, it becomes even more real.

Next, near the Gaza strip:

  • We were taken to a point on a hill near the town of Sderot. From there, Gaza City was about 2 km west. The fog obscured it that day, but we could clearly see over the border into Gaza.
  •  The most recent kassam rocket attack was “about two weeks ago, according to our guide from the Gaza trip, Maj. Chezy Deutsch, director of international relations for the Israeli Defense Force Home Front Command.
  • Sderot takes many of these attacks because it’s the closest Israeli town to Gaza. It has a population of about 20,000. Its mayor, David Bouskila, talked to the PTSS in a community center auditorium. He said better than 7,000 of the 20,000 residents suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He said better than 74 percent of the town’s children are affected by PTSD.
  • Not surprisingly, there are bomb shelters at every bus stop. The school has a bomb shelter. A local playground has a massive shelter that looks like a massive yellow snake.
  • Later, we had lunch about Kibbutz Sa’ad, and received an explanation of life at a kibbutz. It’s certainly not for everyone. My wife, who lived in Israel for a year, explained the importance of the kibbutz to me as Israel started to grow as a nation. She said they don’t matter as much now.

Finally, at the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli National Police:

  • PTSS students were able to look at police equipment, including hardware used by the police’s bomb squad.
  • Afterward, we received a briefing about how the police force works and the crux of its efforts reacting against terrorism. Our briefing pointed out that the Israeli National Police Force is a traditional police force, but it reacts to crimes of terrorism and works in conjunction with IDF, fire, and other authorities.

Many of the students on the trip had no concept about Israel and how it worked. So, each experience from the IDF to the police force was eye opening, including their flight on El Al to the country and coming home.

Further, students were out the door at 7:45 a.m. and usually not back until around 7 p.m. at night. Full days filled with counter-terror experts, government officials, and much more.

There, too, is something to be said about moving 85 people who speak three languages 2,000 miles from one country to another. Passports, hotel rooms, visas, transportation, translation, translation equipment, meals, shepherding them from one point to another … the GCMC has an amazing staff of people who make this happen. It’s a surpringly elegant movement, despite it’s sometimes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang starts and stops. There are too many people to name here, however, our Student Liaison Office deserves most of the credit for a fantastic trip that ensured that our PTSS students were able to get the most out of their opportunity in Israel.

Israel provided a once-in-lifetime opportunity for the PTSS security professionals to look at a nation who does that sort of thing 24 hours day- seven days a week with threats abounding at every border.

That wraps it up for Israel. See you for the next trip.

Posted by: Jason Tudor, PAO | 08/03/2010

Field Study Day 3 update

Israeli Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon

Israeli Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon

Tremendous day of speakers, media opportunities and music.

Our day started with a raft of speakers. The Vice prime Minister of Israel, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon spoke to the students for almost an hour on a wide range of Israeli issues. He was preceded by the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Daniel Ayalon (related coverage here). They also brought a number of media people in tow. So, we were able to put the Marshall Center’s very own Dr. Jay Le Beau up for a pair of interviews with a nation-wide news outlet and the Jerusalem Post. He’ll be in Tuesday’s edition.

The remainder of the speakers included Israeli army officers as well as Israeli police officials. Insights to a variety of different aspects of their professions, including some fascinating inside knowledge, made the afternoon fly by. Questions from the students were also robust, especially concerning Israel-Palestine and other relations.

In the evening, the students were treated to a performance by the Israeli Air Force band. They played a few tunes. The students loved it and we were able to thank our hosts for the opportunity to come to Israel. Three of our students also agreed to speak to the Israeli army radio. Great stuff.

Tuesday, we’re off on a field trip. I’m excited about the location and should be able to provide some great photography later in the evening. Wednesday’s trip could be even more interesting. Unfortunately, for security reasons, I can’t tell you about either until after they’ve happened.

I’ve added some new photos to our Facebook fan page. I’ve also added a video to our YouTube channel with a snippet from the IAF band performance.

More tomorrow.

Posted by: Jason Tudor, PAO | 08/03/2010

Lectures, Jaffa highlight Day 2 in Israel

Avi Dichter addresses the PTSS

Avi Dichter addresses the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies March 7 in Tel Aviv.

(Editor’s Note: Jason Tudor, GCMC Public Affairs Specialist, is blogging all week from Israel. He is traveling with the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies field studies trip March 5-11. These blog entries are from his travels with the students, attending lectures and experiencing their studies first hand. Students and many lecturers cannot be identified due to the nature of their professions.)

Today we received a series of briefings from counter-terrorism experts and a handful of retired Israeli military officers. The topics ranged in discussion from how prison systems work to proportionality. One of the speakers, Dr. Boaz Ganor,  had a fascinating equation for proportionality process. He emphasized that it wasn’t the only thing that should factor into the proportionality of response, but it should factor in to it. Made a lot of sense.

Avi Dichter, a member of the Israeli Knesset, also had a lot to say about proportionality. The quote I remember: “A country has the right to use an F-16 against an M-16.” Mr. Dichter also made a point about saying “there is a bottom of the barrel when it comes to acts of terrorism.”

Other speakers included Dr. Eitan Azani and Retired Lt. Gen. Orit Adato

There were also briefings recounting first-hand experiences by retired and Israeli soldiers. The most memorable for me: a reserve colonel talking about his experiences during the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The insight he provided were fascinating and I could see how the knowledge he passed along could help our PTSS counter-terror practitioners in many ways. There were so many little “insider baseball” tidbits that it made for a very entertaining and informative hour.

At the end of the day, the students were given an opportunity to explore the port town of Jaffa. I had my first shwarma. Fantastic.

Our first formal story on the event will be available on the GCMC Web site later today. Also I’ve added more photos on our Facebook fan page photo album. More tomorrow.

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