“How can I think about transformation as my nation is facing a current crisis?” This question, posed by Major General Ananias Lakos of South Sudan, is reflective of the complex problems facing today’s defense leaders. The Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR) Executive Program in Defense Decision-Making aims to assist international senior civilian and military defense leaders in understanding and exploring defense transformation and decision-making.
The latest iteration of the program, held May 14-25, 2012 at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, Calif., hosted a diverse group of participants, including senior national representatives from South Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Argentina, Jordan, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, and Slovenia. These participants shared their nation’s perspectives and experiences during faculty-led seminar sessions and small group interactions.
Participants discussed how they face many of the same regional and transnational threats despite the diversity of nations represented in the program. These threats occur not only within the defense establishment, but are a part of broader society marked by an increasingly interconnected and interdependent global market.
“It is really a problem of coordination and cooperation,” said Brigadier General Faisal Al-Zubi of Jordan, a participant in the program.
Other themes covered during the program included the importance of multinational and interagency coordination and public-private sector partnerships, according to Scott Jasper, the Deputy Director of Operations for CCMR.
NPS lecturers from across campus and guest faculty shared their ideas and best practices during program presentations. Both faculty and participants came away with fresh perspectives to be taken back to the classroom and the boardroom, said Jasper.
The course participants represented a set of backgrounds and practical knowledge very distinct from the American experience. This year, participants were able to share insights with the world’s newest nation – South Sudan, the United Nations’ top troop contributing country - Bangladesh, and a governing body aspiring to become a nation – the Palestinian Authority.
“The course was a great experience, not only because of the knowledge I acquired, but most importantly because it was an amazing group of wonderful people, which contributed immensely with their unique viewpoints and different cultures,” said Natalia Molina, a participant from the Argentine Ministry of Defense.
In addition to the Executive Program in Defense Decision-Making, CCMR offers numerous short courses and seminars that focus on civil-military relations, defense reform and institution building, peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, and combating terrorism.