By Christine June, George C. Marshall European Center for Security StudiesJanuary 12, 2016
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- The comfortable "post-cold war" order that had dominated European security since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been challenged by new dynamics in what NATO and the European Union call the Eastern Flank.
Russia's continuing aggression in Ukraine, concerns among their neighbors and NATO allies, and Russia's newly published national security strategy identifying NATO as a threat, are all elements of the changing dynamics.
Many world leaders and security professionals have voiced that there is now a need to build a common understanding of these new dynamics and ideally to develop comprehensive strategies to address conflicts, vulnerabilities and growing disorder, to include mass migration.
"These changes are forcing us to rethink concepts of security cooperation, economic interdependence and the prospects for continued European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation and integration," said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith Dayton, director of the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies, a German-American partnership. "As the situation is new, we must think anew, and armed with this new thinking, face the coming challenges, real and imagined."
Dayton was speaking to the 58 participants from 28 countries attending the Marshall Center's first European Security Seminar -- East here Jan. 11.
"Germany asked specifically if we could run this seminar to examine the challenges emanating from the east," Dayton said.
The idea for this seminar, and a sister seminar -- European Security Seminar-South - to be held this coming May that will deal with Europe's Southern Flank, came from discussions held in Berlin in 2014 with the German Military of Defense and the joint U.S. and German concern with the dramatically changed security environment in Europe, said Dayton.
"The European Security Seminar East and South are -- what I would say -- of utmost importance for European regional security today," said Dr. Ralf Roloff, senior German professor at the Marshall Center's College of International and Security Studies, and who is the course director and architect for both ESS-East and ESS-South. "Overall intent for both seminars is to bring more awareness to what is really going on in the region -- to pulse the region -- then, provide to our stakeholders better information about what is a possible policy that could achieve European regional security.
"With these seminars, we are going to go one step further than bringing people together to develop a common understanding," Roloff said. "We are going to develop comprehensive strategies with the participants to address conflicts, vulnerabilities and the disorder in those particular regions."
Participants from the region or neighboring countries, will express their perspectives on the current situation, and consider the opportunities and obstacles regarding the regional security in the Eastern Flank.
"These participants are high-level officials who are dealing with these problems every day," said U.S. Army Col. John Knightstep, ESS-E deputy director. "We are giving them time to share, reflect and think of possible changes or alternatives to current European -- Atlantic policies and new strategies for the region."
Participants will then identify the implications of all these developments with the shared and joint neighbors, EU, NATO, Partnership for Peace Consortium countries and the main partners of the Marshall Center -- Germany and the U.S. At the end of the five-day seminar, the participants, who are from the Ministry of Defense or Ministry of Foreign Affairs from their countries, will develop and present their strategies and policy recommendations on how to engage, contain and deter Russia resurgence in Europe's Eastern Flank.
These strategies and recommendations will be published and presented to the Munich Security Conference to provide the larger security community, and the Marshall Center stakeholders and customers with the results of ESS-E, said, Roloff, who will be one of the presenters at the conference.
"The Munich Security Conference is a really important and big event on the annual calendar of security policy and international diplomacy," Roloff said. "It's the most important and prestigious security conference on the globe."
Roloff added that the conference is held once every year in February and the attendees are presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, senior flag officers and journalists.
This product-driven seminar is titled "The New Dynamic in the East; Conflicts, Vulnerability and Disorder; Russia and The West," and is set-up as a three-part platform.
First part is styled as a conference where subject matter experts from the German Ministry of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense and from the region provide their perspectives on the new dynamic in the Eastern Flank and discuss several of the main vulnerabilities that will be further debated in the second platform -- five workshops.
These workshops are: Power Tools (the use of military power); Protracted Conflicts; Organized Crime, Political Corruption and Undermined Political Institutions; Economic Integration; and, Energy Security.
And finally, the participants will provide future scenarios for what is being called the stress-test. They will be providing worst- and best-case scenarios for the policy recommendations they developed in their workshops.
This seminar will add to the Marshall Center's alumni network of more than 11,000 professionals for continued interaction, dialogue and cooperation.
"Our biggest strength is our alumni program," said Knightstep. "I think one of the best 'soft tools' that Europe has is right here at the Marshall Center."