Rethinking professional military education

10 April, 2013

Vice Chief of Defence Staff (Designate) Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach confirmed as keynote dinner speaker.

Connected forces, educated minds: transformation and professional military education

Monday 13 – Wednesday 15 May 2013 (WP1225)

The conference will form part of a new offensive in professional military education, with the Wilton Park findings to be discussed at a meeting of NATO defence academy commandants in Oslo later in May. NATO’s flagship NATO 2020 programme pre-supposes defence modernisation at a time of acute defence austerity. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen created both Smart Defence and the Connected Forces Initiative to that end. However, critical to NATO 2020 will be a model of professional military education that reinforces the comparative advantage of NATO personnel both on and off the battlefield.

Visiting Programme Director Professor, Julian Lindley-French, is leading our work in organising this event, with support from Allied Command Transformation, NATO Defence College and the UK Defence Academy. He published a blog article on Friday 5 April, Connecting NATO Forces…And Minds, highlighting the need for professional military education to up its game as a key element in enabling NATO militaries “to close the strategy-austerity-capability gap”.

Professor Lindley-French is unequivocal: “Professional military education is NATO’s sleeping giant. NATO and its nations must focus relentlessly on best practice; both from within the defence community and through a better understanding of how other professions now exploit knowledge, life-long learning and technology. It is all about the learner”.

Our conference will bring together leading thinkers, practitioners and educators from NATO, its member states and partners.

In addition to Air Chief Marshal Peach, confirmed speakers and participants include:

  • Lt Gen Karl-Heinz Viereck, Deputy Chief of Staff Joint Force Trainer, Allied Command Transformation;
  • Richard Hooker, Dean, NATO Defense College;
  • Wouter van Rossum, Professor of Innovation Management, University of Twente; Peter Watkins, Director-General, UK Defence Academy;
  • Ambassador Robert Hunter, Senior Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations;
  • Brigadier-General Craig Hilton, Commandant, Canadian Forces College;
  • Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor of National Security Affairs, US Naval War College

In a book published in October 2012 ‘Educating America’s Military’, Johnson-Freese discusses the challenges professional military education must confront if it is to help close the defence capability-austerity gap. Defence is full of gaps these days and value-for-money its modern mantra. Over ten years of continuous operations, much of it at a time of economic crisis, have left most NATO forces under-funded and over-stretched. With no major defence investment likely for years to come, NATO must focus instead on innovative ways to enhance its most valuable asset; NATO people. Professional military education is NATO’s great untapped resource.

Further information

Conference on Connected forces, educated minds: transformation and professional military education

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