TBILISI, Georgia – Promoting security and stability in the South Caucasus and Central Asia was the topic of the Partnership for Peace Consortium 14th annual conference June 19-20 in Tbilisi.
Co-organized by the Georgian Ministry of Defense, the conference provided a forum for about 100 participants from 14 countries to talk about concrete ways for education to enhance security sector reform and defense institution building.
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, director of the George C. Marshall Center for European Security studies and chairman of the consortium’s senior advisory council, stressed the importance in promoting partnerships and strengthening defense and security education in his welcome remarks.
He emphasized that the consortium is a cost-effective key soft power tool of growing relevance, especially in times of austerity as the U.S. rebalances its hard power assets in Eurasia. He characterized the consortium as an effective way for partner nations, particularly the neutral and nonaligned powers, to join forces in areas such as defense education and research, thereby playing an important role in building strong security organizations.
In his keynote speech, Georgian Deputy Minister of Defense Andro Barnovi mentioned the importance of the consortium for Georgia’s way ahead, emphasizing Euro-Atlantic integration.
Participants discussed current security issues of the region. They searched for solutions to the region’s challenges through the consortium’s various working and study groups. The accomplishments of the working groups during the past year were acknowledged and additional areas for future cooperation were identified.
Sean Costigan, chairman of the consortium’s editorial board, gave the 2011 Athena Award for outstanding academic authorship in the “Quarterly Journal Connections” to Col. Ted Donnelly, a former foreign area officer at the Marshall Center. Donnelly is currently deployed to Afghanistan.
“This conference was a success. It brought together the right people to talk about and develop meaningful curricula for defense academies, using modern teaching methods,” said Dr. Raphael Perl, executive director of the consortium. “A network model like the PfPC is a good way to do this.”
Dayton and Barnovi concluded with a shared assessment that the conference was a model for successful cooperation in addressing security challenges in the South Caucasus region within the context of defense education institution building and enhancement.
The next conference is planned in April 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.
by German Senior Master Sgt. Mark Winkler, GCMC Public Affairs