October 5, 2011

Fifth Annual Baltic Conference on Defence was held in Tallinn

On September 29, ICDS and the Estonian Ministry of Defence welcomed to Tallinn the participants of the fifth Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD). The conference of 2011 was entitled ‘From the Cold War and Hot Peace to the Long War and Beyond: What Are Our Armed Forces (Good) For?’ and was dedicated to reflecting upon the evolving role of military force and the implications of change and continuity in the security environment for its utility. The welcoming addresses at the conference were given by HE Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, Dr Mart Laar, Estonian Minister of Defence, and General Sir Richard Shirreff, DSACEUR, NATO Allied Command Operations. The keynote speech to a hundred and fifty participants of the conference was delivered by General (ret.) Egon Ramms, former Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum. In addition, the conference was preceded by a seminar with General James N. Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command, on the multiple futures of the armed forces, which was conducted on September 27 under the auspices of ABCD 2011.

On September 29, ICDS and the Estonian Ministry of Defence welcomed to Tallinn the participants of the fifth Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD). The conference of 2011 was entitled ‘From the Cold War and Hot Peace to the Long War and Beyond: What Are Our Armed Forces (Good) For?’ and was dedicated to reflecting upon the evolving role of military force and the implications of change and continuity in the security environment for its utility. The welcoming addresses at the conference were given by HE Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, Dr Mart Laar, Estonian Minister of Defence, and General Sir Richard Shirreff, DSACEUR, NATO Allied Command Operations. The keynote speech to a hundred and fifty participants of the conference was delivered by General (ret.) Egon Ramms, former Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum. In addition, the conference was preceded by a seminar with General James N. Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command, on the multiple futures of the armed forces, which was conducted on September 27 under the auspices of ABCD 2011.

5.10.2011 On September 29, ICDS and the Estonian Ministry of Defence welcomed to Tallinn the participants of the fifth Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD). The conference of 2011 was entitled ‘From the Cold War and Hot Peace to the Long War and Beyond: What Are Our Armed Forces (Good) For?’ and was dedicated to reflecting upon the evolving role of military force and the implications of change and continuity in the security environment for its utility. The welcoming addresses at the conference were given by HE Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, Dr Mart Laar, Estonian Minister of Defence, and General Sir Richard Shirreff, DSACEUR, NATO Allied Command Operations. The keynote speech to a hundred and fifty participants of the conference was delivered by General (ret.) Egon Ramms, former Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum. In addition, the conference was preceded by a seminar with General James N. Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command, on the multiple futures of the armed forces, which was conducted on September 27 under the auspices of ABCD 2011.
The conference was organised into three sessions, each dealing with a set of questions. The first session addressed more theoretical problems, such as trends in the strategic environment and their implications; the enduring importance of war fighting and armed suasion as the central rationale for military force; the impact of emerging security issues (e.g. cyber) on the role and utility of military force; and the blurring boundaries between war and peace in an age of ‘hybrid’ threats. The second session focused on defence reforms in Europe and discussed the implications of the decreasing U.S. presence in Europe; the challenges in building complementary military capabilities and in achieving a greater degree of ‘pooling and sharing’; Europe’s ambitions and ability to project military power; and the impact of budgetary austerity on the armed forces. The third session explored the strategic options for small allies and sought to answer the questions of whether regional cooperation was undermining multilateralism in NATO and the EU; what value small allies could deliver in collective projection of military power; how they could maximise it; and how they could serve as positive examples of defence reforms and new approaches in defence.
The participants of the conference concluded that the armed forces will continue to have utility across a wide range of contingencies, but in the complex security environment of the early 21st century it is not possible to foresee the individual circumstances in which they might be used. This unpredictability would in turn require adaptability and versatility in our armed forces. Declining defence budgets in Europe and a weakening of common purpose, however, threaten the solidarity of the Alliance. Although some states have taken steps in the direction of smarter defence spending, for example, through pooling and sharing, progress has been slow and uneven. Europe needs to do more to demonstrate to its transatlantic partners that it is, and will remain, a credible and reliable contributor to security. (A more extensive summary of the ABCD 2011 discussions will be made available on the conference website: abcd.icds.ee.)

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