Marshall Center, Munich Security Conference Hosts Transatlantic Policy Discussions focused on Russia

LG Members discuss Russia at Munich Security Conference

Marshall Center, Munich Security Conference Hosts Transatlantic Policy Discussions focused on Russia

By Christine June and Josh Southworth
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Dec, 11, 2017) – The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the Munich Security Conference’s Loisach Group met in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to discuss transatlantic policy solutions focused on Russia. This unique venture strengthens the German and U.S. partnership by working towards combined solutions to complex security challenges.

Invited national security experts and Marshall Center faculty evaluated the extent to which current U.S. and German policies towards Russia are coherent and structured to reduce tension between Russia and the West. The group looked to identify U.S. and German collaborative approaches to diverse challenges such as the Ukraine, cyber security and Arctic security. The group discussed ways to overcome or mitigate current disagreements between the transatlantic partners. The Loisach Group plans to publish their strategic insights to stakeholders and attendees of the Munich Security Conference in February 2018 to help inform their future policy discussions.

Foundation of the Loisach Group

The Marshall Center and the Munich Security Conference created a partnership in August 2017 to commit to mutual cooperation in the European security dialogue.  This partnership led to the establishment of the Loisach Group, which seeks to provide U.S. and German defense policymakers with sound recommendations on deterring Russian aggression and building a constructive relationship with Moscow.

“The Loisach Group is the perfect platform for German and the U.S. to come together and speak frankly to one another on these issues. I think it is part of the process that German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis wanted to create” said Ian Brzezinski, senior fellow of the Brent Scowdroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council.

This process was further strengthened during Secretary Mattis and Minister von der Leyen’s visit to the Marshall Center on the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Marshall Plan. They both stated the need to establish a strategic dialogue between the two countries and the Loisach Group helps to maintain an active part of the bilateral relationship.

“Now as in the past, western security turns first and foremost on the soundness, effectiveness and the trust in the U.S. and German Relationship. This is absolutely key. If the U.S. and Germany are on the same page, then all the other problems become easier to address,” said former head of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House James Sherr during the foundation event of the Loisach Group.

The Importance of the Loisach Group

The Loisach Group is in a unique position through the strategic partnership with the Marshall Center and the Munich Security Conference to bring together policy experts that can identify U.S. and German strategic overlaps and divisions. The identification of common interests will enable better informed policy recommendations for both countries.

The policy ideas produced in the upcoming papers will be published through collaboration between the Marshall Center and Munich Security Conference. This method will increase the amount of attention the ideas formulated within receive to give the policy recommendations the widest possible circulation. The members of the Loisach Group also hold significant influence in Washington D.C. and Berlin, and it is anticipated the Group’s findings will inform policy decisions in both governments.  

“We think that the Loisach Group is the ideal platform for making a reality out of the concepts developed during a strategic dialogue.” Dr. Jack Clarke, the Marshall Center’s lead professor for the Loisach Group stated.

The Way Forward

The Group will publish their findings in three separate papers to the Munich Security Conference in February 2018. There will be an event at the end of the Munich Security Conference hosted by the Loisach Group to bring together conference speakers, Marshall Center faculty and other strategic policy experts to summarize what was accomplished during the Munich Security Conference and how to best use those findings in the future. The group will host a similar joint event with the Munich Security Conference during the July NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium with the goal of addressing emerging security challenges.  

“The West really needs the U.S. and Germany to stand together in a common front in a time of increased challenges,” said Ian Brzezinski.