Marshall Center Concludes First Virtual Program on Terrorism and Security Studies
By College of International Security Studies
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN (March 5, 2021) – Recently, the Marshall Center conducted its first iteration of a virtual Program on Terrorism and Security Studies.
The course ran from Feb. 22 through March 5. Seventy-nine participants representing 41 countries connected and virtually gathered every day in either a morning or afternoon plenary and seminar sessions depending on their home-time zone.
Reflecting on this first vPTSS course, Marshall Center’s PTSS program director, U.S. Marine Corps Col. Gary Reidenbach said “While the virtual environment certainly created challenges with regard to curriculum design and content selection, it also created unique opportunities for counterterrorism, irregular warfare, and security force practitioners who are not normally able to travel to Garmisch for a month or more during our traditional resident PTSS.”
For this virtual offering, the CT Department, and Marshall Center faculty and staff distilled the traditional flagship PTSS curriculum into a highly condensed, but potent lineup to better account for the compressed timeline and constraints typical of online educational environments, said Reidenbach.
In the end, the course broadly addressed strategic and operational concepts, considerations, policies, and responses to terrorism and included topics like “Terrorist Motivations and Strategies,” “Law Enforcement and Intelligence Responses,” and “Whole of Society Engagement.”
As has become a hallmark of the PTSS, the daily lectures and discussions drew from personnel experiences from a wide variety of practitioner and expert backgrounds in law enforcement, intelligence, military, government and academia.
In particular, the adjunct faculty experts who remotely connected and co-led each of the eight seminars brought critical and impressive real-world experience into the course and participated from across the globe, to include the Philippines, Germany, Kazakhstan, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States, said Reidenbach.
With facilitation from the faculty and support team, participants engaged in complex and personal discussions each day, dissecting various elements of terrorist motivations and government strategies to counter terrorist organizations and acts.
Just as importantly, they also established relationships and networks with one another that are sure to bear professional fruit, said Reidenbach.
Each of the eight daily seminars were composed of professionals from approximately 10 different nations bringing unique perspectives on their individual and institutional fights against violent extremist organizations.
Through small group discussions, case study analysis, experiential exchange, and viewpoint and perspective sharing, participants identified ways to increase “intellectual interoperability” and better understand various paths toward success in efforts to combat violent extremism, said Reidenbach.
Ultimately, this sense of unity and search for shared understanding highlights the core strength of the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies and the Marshall Center, said Reidenbach.
As a combined partnership between the German and U.S. governments, the Marshall Center brings together experts and practitioners from around the world with the goal of generating shared insights on challenging topics and encouraging common purpose in the struggle to advance peace and liberty for all nations.
The virtual Program on Terrorism and Security Studies is yet one more tool in that effort and one that exceeded expectations in these challenging times, Reidenbach said.
As one adjunct faculty member said, “I was extremely impressed at the credentials of the participants and the way they engaged one another during discussions. These past two weeks proved to me that even amidst difficult circumstances like that produced by the pandemic, we can still create powerful relationships and synergy for those fighting violent extremist ideology and terrorism around the world.”