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GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 16, 2014) - Dr. AntonGiulio de’ Robertis, International Relations Adviser to the President of Centro Alti Studi per la Difesa (Center for High Defense Studies in Italy), asks a question to Austrian armed forces Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Johann Frank, Security Policy Division director for Austrian Federal Ministry of Defense, about his presentation on Austria’s national security policy and its strategies to counter new security challenges Sept. 15 during the Senior Executive Seminar at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here.

More photos on the Marshall Center photo gallery. (DOD photo by Karlheinz Wedhorn/RELEASED)

By Christine June
GCMC Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 16, 2014)— Discovering new methods to free the world from the transnational terrorists threats of al-Qaeda, Islamic State and global Jihad groups is the hope of 70 senior policymakers who began the Senior Executive Seminar Sept. 15 at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here.

“We will be discussing how to adapt our strategies and innovative ways to counter al-Qaeda, its affiliates and advocates, with particular interest of what is emerging now with the Islamic State,” said Italian Aeronautica Militare (air force) Brig. Gen. Salva Gagliano, SES course director, who added that this five-day seminar is intensive.

Each year, SES focuses on a topic chosen by the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department, and German Ministry of Defense. This year, stakeholders wanted SES to focus on countering transnational terrorist threats from al-Qaeda, Islamic State and global Jihad groups. Past seminars focused on security concerns in North Africa and the Middle East, the impact of terrorists in Europe and Eurasia, and countering violent extremism.

With the title Adapting Our Strategies to Counter Evolving Transnational Terrorist Threats from Al-Qaeda, its Affiliates and its Advocates, this year’s seminar offers policymakers a forum for exploring current status and strength of the global al-Qaeda network, and understanding al-Qaeda, its affiliates and advocates in Eurasia and Africa. It also covers the significance of Syria for al-Qaeda and the global Jihad, strategic implications for counterterrorism and where al-Qaeda is headed.

The seminar will have 17 guest speakers starting with Austrian armed forces Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Johann Frank, Security Policy Division director for Austrian Federal Ministry of Defense. The seminar consists of six sessions, with five of these giving attendees a choice to participate in one of five workshops that delve further into the topic to explore key issues.

“Each of these breakout sessions (workshops) are all main issues and key topics of concern, which people really want to know all about and find solutions to all of these issues…like regional implications,” said Dr. Sam Mullins, professor of counterterrorism, who is the academic advisor for this SES.

Session titles include: Al-Qaeda Today; Assessing the Network; Al-Qaeda and Affiliates in Eurasia; Focus on Syria and the Middle East; and, Al-Qaeda in Africa. Sample of the workshop titles are: The Role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Combating Terrorism in Asia; The Islamic State Options for Counterterrorism; Al-Qaeda’s Prospects in Syria; The Crime-Terror Nexus and the Challenge of Interagency Cooperation, Boko Haram Threat and Response; and, Whole-of-Government Approaches to Combating Terrorism.

Showcasing the Marshall Center’s move to a transnational mission Oct. 1, seminar and workshop panelists are subject-matter experts from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Security Coordinator for Jerusalem and Palestine Authority,  Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Centro Alti Studi per la Difesa (Center for High Defense Studies in Italy) and European Union, as well as professionals from Russia, United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Syria, Egypt, Austria, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Uganda and Jordan.  

Participants are military and civilian decision makers from 48 countries within five U.S. combatant commands area of responsibility, and representing their state presidents, parliament, ministries of defense, justice, interior, foreign affairs and health, armed forces, national assemblies, federations, national security and police.

The final session of the seminar consists of five scenarios on the future development of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State for policymakers to consider likely trends and developments in order to anticipate and prepare in advance for challenges ahead.

“These scenarios could quite easily develop within the next five years,” Mullins said. “The idea is that participants look at each scenario and consider what the implications are for world security.”

During panel sessions, the senior policymakers will be joined by senior non-commissioned officers from all 28 NATO countries, who are attending the International Senior Enlisted Seminar that is proceeding simultaneously with SES at the Marshall Center.

This senior enlisted seminar is the flagship professional development event for NATO and Partnership for Peace Consortium. This is the third year that ISES has joined with SES.

“(Senior NCOs) get to see the broad perspective of what these issues are at the top level, not just from NATO leaders, but also ambassadors, ministers from all over,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Pamela Ball, deputy director for SES. “This really helps them to define what they need to focus on in their positions as NCOs with NATO.”

Both SES and ISES end Sept. 19.

The mission of the Marshall Center is to create a more stable security environment by advancing democratic institutions and relationships, especially in the field of defense; promoting active, peaceful security cooperation; and enhancing enduring partnerships among nations.

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