GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Aug. 28, 2017) -- Give any one of the 78 law enforcement professionals who graduated from the George C. Marshall European Center's Countering Transnational Organized Crime course one minute, and they will tell you exactly what they think they need to do to stop transnational organized crime in their nation.

More importantly, they'll share with you their thoughts on how to develop a strategy to counter transnational organized crime because this group of law enforcement professionals spent a good portion of their time at the Marshall Center learning how to draft strategies.

"We always seek feedback from our alumni," said Joe Vann, course director of the Marshall Center's Countering Transnational Organized Crime course. One of the things our alumni asked for was an increased focus on how to develop strategy. They wanted to return home and start writing a countering transnational organized crime strategy for their nations. Too often strategy is crafted in a crisis which is the worst time to develop a strategy. Additionally, writing strategy is typically done at higher levels of a professional's career. Many of these participants, especially the civilians, will never attend a defense college where strategy development is traditionally taught. We saw a gap in this area. No one else is doing what we are doing."

STRATEGY WRITING EXERCISE FOCUSES ON REAL NATIONS WITH REAL PROGRAMS

While the three week course still features auditorium presentations and one-on-one discussions with faculty and senior law enforcement officials with vast experience in countering organized crime, the art of developing strategy and policy is taught throughout the course. Working in seven smaller seminar groups of 11-12 students, each seminar selected one nation from a list of 13 that are dealing with the challenges of transnational organized crime to propose a CTOC strategy. In the final week each seminar presented their work to a Marshall Center panel in the presence of the entire class.

"The participants in each seminar were told that they were assigned to a consulting firm as part of their government's professional development program. Each seminar or 'consulting company' was then asked to submit a proposal for developing a CTOC strategy for a particular country. The seminar consulting company developed a comprehensive strategy proposal that addressed the specific CTOC challenges for the country they selected. Along with the strategy proposal, the consultancy were required to identify three key policy proposals that supported their proposed CTOC strategy," said Vann.

Nothing was simulated as these consultants used data and information from World Bank analysis and other real-world data bases to devise their proposals.

"Our goal in this course was focused on developing functioning knowledge rather than declarative knowledge. Declarative knowledge is about facts and concepts. These participants are mid-level professionals who already have a great understanding because of their careers. We wanted these participants to put to use what they already know and reinforce their knowledge to develop and evaluate strategies and policies for countering transnational crime, said Vann."

On the final day of CTOC, each seminar had 20 minutes to present their strategy proposals to the prospective customer who were represented by three Marshall Center faculty led by the Associate Director for International Liaison U.S. Ambassador Douglas Griffiths.

"These participants really understood that these threats were serious national security threats. I think there was a realization that national security is complex but chief among them are stability and accountability of national governments. A lot of that is threatened by corruption and internal threats and all sorts of illicit trafficking," said Griffiths.

TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME IN UKRAINE TARGETED

Two of the seven seminar groups selected Ukraine in the strategy writing exercise. Ukraine and the corruption challenges there are all too familiar for CTOC adjunct professor Khatia Dekanoidze. Up until last November, Dekanoidze was the first politically independent head of the National Police of Ukraine. She led the transformation of the military to civilian organization of 150 thousand officers under her leadership.

"Ukraine suffers from weak government institutions. The law enforcement and judiciary systems are all very corrupt. This problem is a kind of tradition. The system was telling the people that 'we're not doing everything for you. We're not taking care of you so take care of yourselves.' Government workers were not paid," said Dekanoidze. "For new police officers, the biggest frustration is that the system is not changing. We created a new police force but the system isn't changing. There is fighting between the new forces and the old forces. It's like the fight between good and bad. My number one frustration was that there was no political will to change things."

CTOC participant Iryna Tymoshenko was one of three Ukrainian professionals in the course and was a member of a seminar that formulated a transnational organized crime strategy for her nation. The challenges at home she shared with her group underscored the importance of countering corruption.

"If you want to see a doctor, it costs money to see the one you want. If you want your kids to go to a good school, your parents need to have connections. This is a part of our culture and it will be difficult to change," said Tymoshenko.

DEVELOPING GLOBAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PROFESSIONALS FOR "JOB AFTER NEXT"

CTOC faculty members tell prospective participants and those attending that the course is designed to prepare them not only for their next job, but also the job after next. Participants nominated for the program have already been identified as top performing professionals in their respective nations. Accordingly, the curriculum is developed to teach skills that they will need at the next level of their career.

A large part of preparing these participants for the job after next takes place in seminar sessions where familiarity and trust are formed. Participants return home knowing that if they ever face a problem, there is a trusted network of CTOC alumni that they can call on for help.

"There are more than 500 professionals from nearly 100 nations who have been part of the CTOC program. We know that our alumni have reached out and worked together in several major transnational criminal cases. This program is making a difference in many nations," said Vann.

Another CTOC aspect these professionals will take back with them is the skill and confidence in delivering important information in a short period of time. Seminar sessions begin with a "Marshall Center minute," a structured short speech exercise designed to teach participants how to deliver important information to their leadership in a short period of time.

"Too many times when leaders ask for information to make a decision, it's provided without structure and in a time consuming way. Each seminar we asked the participants about their thoughts on a lecture or topic discussed. It was their job to quickly assess what was asked and provide a structured reply in under 60 seconds," said Vann.

The exercise was extremely valuable to Tymoshenko who attended a five-week Marshall Center English Language Enhancement Course to prepare her for the vocabulary and language of law professionals.

"This course has made me more confident and opened up new opportunities with the people I've met here. The "Marshall Center" minute has taught me to structure my thoughts so that when I speak to my leadership, I can get my points across quickly, not like a politician!" said Tymoshenko.

More information on CTOC can be found on the Marshall Center website at www.marshallcenter.org/?CTOC