The Army Culture, Regional Expertise and Language Management Office jointly with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Command and General Staff College presented a unique educational opportunity Friday, Jan. 12, at the Lewis and Clark Center on Fort Leavenworth.

Jon Casey, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine gave his observations in a lecture titled "First-Hand Observations from the Russian-Ukrainian Border: Implications for Regional and Global Security."

Casey started the event by explaining the makeup of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that consists of 57 nations including all nations that were members of NATO and of the former Warsaw Pact. He also explained that the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine had to be agreed upon by all 57 OSCE member states as do all activities of the organization.

The mission's aims are to gather information and report on the security situation in the Ukraine with the ultimate goal of reducing tensions and promoting normalization. Toward those ends, the mission has more than 500 monitors in the region producing daily reports, spot reports, and thematic reports. Many of the mission's products can be found on their website, http://www.osce.org/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine.

Casey said it's important to remember the special Monitoring Mission reports on facts but does not conduct investigations, and facilitates the delivery of humanitarian aid but does not deliver it. He also said it's important to recall that it is up to the sides to stop the fighting.

In addition to reporting, the mission also facilitates dialogue on the ground between parties affected by the conflict. Casey said they are often able to get combatants to agree to cease-fires so that critical infrastructure can be repaired, humanitarian aid delivered, and non-combatants safely moved. Providing these "temporary windows of silence," is one of the organization's most important missions today, said Casey

He then talked about the difficulty of conducting the mission, starting with safety. The mission members are unarmed, patrolling during daylight hours, subject to continuous observation with surveillance cameras and presence of Forward Patrol Bases in critical locations. Thousands of landmines and ongoing fighting are ever-present concerns. He also pointed out the difficulty of the limited number of monitors trying to cover a battlespace that includes 53,000 square kilometers.

The presence of the mission has been a net benefit, he said. He said successes include objective reporting, lower casualty rates due to the OSCE's capability to communicate with both sides to deescalate situations, lower civilian casualty ratio due to the OSCE's mandate to follow up and report objectively on civilian casualties, human rights adherence, support to basic services, and humanitarian aid delivery.

BG Scott Efflandt, Deputy Commandant, Provost of the Army University and Deputy Commandant of the Command and General Staff College opened the event. Dr. Mahir Ibrahimov, Director, Army Culture, Regional Expertise & Language Office moderated the discussion. In addition to the full-house local audience more than 17 sites nation-wide and internationally joined the lecture via teleconference.