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The Senior Executive Seminar 15-09 was held Sept. 14 to 18 at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. ‪SES‬ offered policymakers a forum for exploring a current international security issue in depth. This year's seminar focused on 21st Century Converging Threats: Nexus of Terrorism, Drugs and Illicit Trafficking. This year’s participants – 73 from 40 countries – includes an executive mix where 60 percent serve in military leadership positions and the other 40 percent are civilians in high-government office. (Click on image for slide show)

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

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 18, 2015) — Finding willing and competent allies, said Cayman Islands’ Police Commissioner David Baines, is the way forward to deal with “some serious threats” not only on the islands, but also in the Caribbean.

Baines garnered almost 11,000 allies by following the recommendation from Mark Ridley, deputy director of Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Washington D.C. That recommendation was to attend the Senior Executive Seminar with him from Sept. 14 to 18 here at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

“I thought he would benefit from this course not only to strengthen the relationship he has with us (NCIS), but also for him to build relationships with professionals across the globe,” said Ridley, who added that this was the first time he recommended someone to attend the Marshall Center, but said, “It won’t be the last.” Ridley said his professional relationship with Baines is an important one because Baines is also the president of the Caribbean Association of Chiefs of Police and has influence with 27 islands in the Caribbean.

“The Caribbean is extremely important to (the U.S. Navy) – it’s a blind spot to us – the Navy does not have the resources in the region that we once we had and it’s really important to us to have people there who we can reach out to for situational awareness,” said Ridley, who has been an NCIS agent for 28 years and more than five years as its deputy director. “We are concerned about regional problems, such as the flow of drugs, guns and bad guys who transit from the Caribbean to the U.S., which impacts crime in the U.S.” The Senior Executive Seminar offers policymakers a forum for exploring a current international security issue in depth.

The focus this year was on 21st Century Converging Threats: Nexus of Terrorism, Drugs and Illicit Trafficking. “Massively ambitious program…this seminar has given me a better capability of understanding the complexities involved in the nexus between criminality and terrorism,” said Baines, who is the first Marshall Center alumnus from the Cayman Islands. “Knowing the methodology and the trends that are emerging – at least – allow me to be aware, look for indicators and ask the intelligent questions of my staff so we are better able to recognize the threat. Hopefully, we can do something about it and do our part to work collectively to make it a safer world.”

The five-day seminar showcased lectures from international experts who specialize in terrorism and organized crime and smaller group-discussions designed to build trust and understanding between the nations’ participants to find common ground for cooperative responses.

“Our goal in bringing together a diverse group of subject-matter experts to discuss topics that look at the relationship between two of the major concerns the international community is facing today – terrorism and organized crime,” said Italian Brig. Gen. Luigi Francavilla, SES 15-9 course director. One of those subject-matter experts was Ridley, who was a panel member on the discussion of Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunities in Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism.

“The Marshall Center has something special here with this seminar,” Ridley began his 30-minute discussion on the perspective of NCIS on today’s serious threats. “Terrorist and transnational organized crime threats are prevalent in the world right now. It’s global, complex and high tech. There are no boundaries – these serious threats cross jurisdictions and disciplines.”

In his presentation, Ridley said, “it’s critical for all of us to understand our domain, to share information and to collaborate on policing.”

Other guest lecturers included:

  • Noorolhaq Olomi, minister of Interior Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan;
  • U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Commander of U.S. European Command;
  • General Patrick de Rousiers, chairman of the European Union Military Committee;
  • Gen. Hussein Hazza' Majali, former interior minister and minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs of Jordan; and,
  • U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken, U.S. Africa Command’s deputy for military operations.

“(The seminar lectures) were beneficial to me. It has given me a better availability to understand the complexes involved not just from the single position of law enforcement, but actually in identifying if it’s going to be law enforcement, military or political solution.” Baines said, “For these serious threats, it’s not just one, but a collection of all of those. “However, the most beneficial part (of this seminar) is that you meet people, and you develop a trust and relationship with them that will extend way beyond this week. If we don’t have the answer to a particular problem, there are a lot of people here who have a lot of capability and vast amount of experience that you can call on,” said Baines, referring to the Marshall Center’s network of almost 11,000 alumni from 149 nations.

“It gives us a connectivity that allows us to be more effective for the communities we serve.” Breedlove also talked about the importance of the Marshall Center’s alumni network during his presentation. He encouraged the seminar’s participants to “meet and really understand your course mates because the people around you now are your rolodex and just might help you solve a problem in the future.

” The Marshall Center is a unique German-American partnership and is named after U.S. Army Gen. George C. Marshall, who developed a sweeping economic recovery program for post World War II Europe.

“We talk about forces for good, and if you ever wanted an example of somebody – a military figure – taking a political position for the common good – that actually was the common good for the world and not necessarily for the U.S. – see what General Marshall achieved,” Baines said. “If there is a legacy on how we can solve the problems of the future, the Marshall Center does it on a daily basis, based on an idea and concept created by General Marshall that established a safer world built on an ideology and morality.

“I actually see that living proof by the relationships and ideas that came out of the discussions that have taken place over the last five days in SES,” Baines said.