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The Friends of the Marshall Center held its annual meeting in March here at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. For more photos of this event, visit the Marshal Center Photo Gallery. (Marshall Center photo by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn)

By German air force Senior Master Sgt. Mark Winkler
Marshall Center Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (March 31, 2016) – The Friends of the Marshall Center held its annual meeting in March here at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

The Friends of the Marshall Center were formed in 1996 and is an organization comprised of citizens from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, who sponsor activities for participants attending Marshall Center resident courses. These activities help participants, who are from around the world, experience the Bavarian culture while they are here.

The Friends of the Marshall Center hold its annual meeting every March at the Marshall Center.

The elected members led by the Chairperson Professor Dr. h.c. Rudolf Faltermeier, gave an annual report of the club’s sponsored activities and discussed plans for the upcoming year.  They also discussed the club’s sponsorship program where local people, even those who are not members, escort one or two participants while they are here.

The Marshall Center Director U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith Dayton and the Marshall Center German Deputy Director German Heer (Army) Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Johann Berger were guests at the meeting.

Dayton gave an update on what has happened in the past year at the Marshall Center and the schedule for the rest of 2016. Dayton said that he considers this a stock-holder report as that’s how he sees the Friends of the Marshall Center.

“I can’t begin, however, without thanking this extraordinary group of supporters of our joint German-American enterprise we call the Marshall Center,” said Dayton, who marked his fifth meeting with the Friends of the Marshall Center. “We are truly grateful for your generosity to our students that you continue to show.

“Since we last met in late March 2015, we have experienced quite a few changes at the Marshall Center,” Dayton said. “All of them for the good, and never has our future been more secure.”

Dayton then explained the Marshall Center achievements in 2015 and early 2016:

  • “Our resident programs hosted more than 890 participants from 118 countries.  This is a little more than usual, and in accordance with guidance we received from Washington, there were more students from Asia, Africa and South America than ever before.”
  • “In non-resident affairs, we had activities with more than 30 countries, to include tailored seminars for parliamentarians from Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and three times with Ukraine.  In fact as we sit here, we have a tailored seminar for both parliamentarians and members of the General Staff going on in the historic RADA building in Kyiv”
  • “You may recall the G7 summit – as I noted in my New Year remarks, both General Berger and I had the chance to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama and both had good things to say about the Marshall Center and the support from the local communities.”
  • “I also noted that a former professor at the Marshall Center, Martha McSally, was elected to the U.S. Congress from Arizona.”
  • “In line with very clear guidance from Germany, we held our first ever European Security Seminar – East which tackled the question of what to do about Russia.”
  • “One of the more interesting events we held was our three-week Seminar on Regional Stability hosted by our German element.  One day, we had the U.S. Ambassador, Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and a former lieutenant general of Russia speak to the students on Ukraine.  The course ended with the symbolic signing of a Minsk Three agreement worked out by participants.”
  • “Our transnational mission – counterterrorism, Program on Terrorism and Security Studies, Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Program on Cyber Security Studies - has taken off nicely and has hit its stride.  Our PTSS (75 participants from 44 countries) just concluded and in early April, we will start our third iteration of CTOC – more than 90 participants are signed up.  These courses are preceded by English Language Enhancement Course - another huge success.”

Dayton then talked about the Marshall Center’s future:

  • “This winter, General Berger and I went to Brussels where we hosted by LTGen Wiermann at NATO and Ambassador Pflueger and others at the EU.  The relationship with the EU is developing and we have invited the new chairman of the EUMILCOM here in May.”
  • “In May, we will present our first European Security Seminar – South.  It is run by our senior German professor and will focus on the southern flank of NATO and Europe in terms of migration and the threat of terrorism.”
  • “Our usual courses will continue throughout the coming year, and our Senior Executive Seminar in September promises to be a great one.  The topic is “How does ISIS end?” and we already have signed up Ambassadors Dennis Ross and Michael Oren, as well as General John Allen with more invitations awaiting a response. The new SACEUR (General Scaparotti) can be expected to attend, along with, we hope, the new commander of US CENTCOM and senior German officials.”

Dayton emphasized, “The main event, however, is the signing of a new Memorandum of Agreement between the U.S. and Germany. The exact date of this signing ceremony is still not certain, although the latest proposal is May 12 or 13 May.  Both parties want to do it here in Garmisch, probably in our large plenary hall.  Dr. Andreas von Geyr from the German Ministry of Defense and Elissa Slotkin from the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense would be the signers. 

“We have yet to firm up the event and what it would look like, but friends of the Marshall Center will certainly be invited to attend,” Dayton said.

Berger added there will be more German participation along with more funds in the new MOA.