Senior Executive Seminar 2024: Bridging Strategic Gaps and Fostering Transatlantic Cooperation

Senior Executive Seminar (SES) Group Photo

Senior Executive Seminar 2024: Bridging Strategic Gaps and Fostering Transatlantic Cooperation

The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies concluded its Senior Executive Seminar (SES) for 2024. This year's seminar brought together senior government officials and policymakers from across the Euro-Atlantic community to discuss critical international security issues and foster strategic cooperation.

The SES provides a platform where senior officials can assess and discuss strategic challenges and opportunities within the transatlantic community. Over the course of several days, participants gained deep insights into the commonalities and divergences in interests among stakeholders, fostering mutual understanding and laying the groundwork for strengthened partnerships.

"As we conclude this year's Senior Executive Seminar, I am profoundly grateful for the active participation and contributions from all attendees. The knowledge and strategies we've developed here are crucial for navigating the complex security challenges. Your commitment to fostering international cooperation and your dedication to a 'Whole of Society' approach are what make our efforts truly impactful," said Marshall Center Director Barre Seguin. 

The seminar's agenda was ambitious, including a comprehensive approach to regional security and international impacts. Discussions covered a wide range of topics, including maritime security, space domain challenges, and the geopolitical dynamics of regions such as the Black Sea, Western Balkans, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.

One of the highlights was the keynote address by Admiral Stuart Munsch, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander of Allied Joint Forces Command Naples. He emphasized the crucial role of interoperability and trust in defense strategies, stating, “In order to deter and defend, we need to have warfighting advantage. In order to have warfighting advantage, we need to have interoperability so we can make the most out of what we have. In order to have interoperability, we have to build trust so we are willing to work together. This is what this seminar is about.”

Participants had the opportunity to discuss the future of arms control in the space domain, led by John D. Hill, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space and Missile Defense at the U.S. Department of Defense. Hill highlighted the importance of deterrence in space, asserting, "Deterrence in space begins with deterrence on Earth. We must think proactively about preventing or removing incentives for aggression."

John D. Hill, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space and Missile Defense, U.S. Department of Defense, gave the keynote address on the second day of SES on May 14, 2024.

On space diplomacy, Mallory Stewart, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability at the U.S. Department of State, shared her expertise on emerging challenges and strategies in the space domain. She underscored the importance of international cooperation and innovative approaches to maintaining stability in space. “It is through the integration of arms control approaches, reinforcing existing obligations and developing new norms, that we can all work together to enhance the security, stability, and sustainability of the outer space environment,” said Stewart.

To round up the space discussion, Lt. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt, Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear at the U.S. Space Force, joined virtually to discuss the challenges and opportunities within the space domain and the complexities inherent in space operations. Moderated by GCMC's Dr. Fritz Rademacher, Lt. Gen. Burt provided attendees with a deeper understanding of the strategic importance of space in today's security landscape.

A session on maritime security, moderated by Rear Admiral Piotr Nieć, featured panelists such as Vice Admiral Patrick Chevallereau, Dr. Bruce D. Jones, and Dr. Sarah Kirchberger. This session addressed the evolving dynamics of the maritime environment, emphasizing the significance of addressing geopolitical tensions, emerging cyber threats, and technological advancements.


Photo of Mallory Stewart at SES 24
Mallory Stewart, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability at the U.S. Department of State, shares her perspective on the future of arms control during GCMC's Senior Executive Seminar on May 15, 2024.

Adding to the robust discussion on space, Maj. Gen. Michael Traut from the German Space Command presented "The Space Domain in an Era of Disruption and Strategic Competition - A View from the German Space Command." He emphasized the dual-use nature of space, noting, “Space is critical infrastructure and dual-use by nature.” Traut highlighted the increased physical risks and threats due to the growing number of actors and ambitions in space, which challenge the current legal framework governing the space domain. He remarked, “There are more questions opened than answered.” Furthermore, he differentiated space safety, a whole-of-government task, from space security, which falls under the military space domain. Traut stressed, “We need to collaborate across governments, industry, and academia to achieve our strategic aim – a safe, secure, and sustainable use of space.”

Earlier in the seminar, Mrs. Bridget Diakun from Lloyds Intelligence moderated a panel that conducted an in-depth case study on the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on the maritime domain. This session covered issues such as energy security, food security, supply chains, and the phenomenon of ghost fleets. 

“We must be proactive, united and prepared for the worst, because security is priceless,” said Lt. Gen. Dr. Piotr Błazeusz as he concluded his presentation, The Polish Perspective on the EU and NATO Eastern Flank.

Throughout the seminar, a "Whole of Society" perspective was encouraged, emphasizing collaboration across sectors to address security challenges effectively. This approach is essential for fostering comprehensive and inclusive solutions to the complex issues we face today.

Lt. Gen. Dr. Piotr Błazeusz addresses GCMC's Senior Executive Seminar participants during the seminar's closing on May 17, 2024.