Tartu, Estonia – Brig. Gen. Timothy Hilty, director of the joint staff, Pennsylvania National Guard, met with Estonian army Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, commandant of the Baltic Defense College, to discuss future educational opportunities for Pennsylvania Guard members to further their professional military education.
National Guard officers from Pennsylvania and other states who have state partnership relationships with the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia may soon enjoy an invaluable opportunity to study military strategy and leadership at a recognized and accredited military college in Europe. The Baltic Defense College is the only English-speaking military college in mainland Europe.
"We believe that this institution is a bridge between our partner nations that enhances the overall value," said Kiili. "This program is on par with peer educational institutions and modeled after the British system of military education."
Officers who attend the Joint Command and General Staff Course have the option upon completion of their coursework to be awarded a master's degree from the University of Tartu through completion of some additional courses.
"Roughly one-third of the 45-member instructor staff are from multi-national partner militaries," said Lt. Col. Mark Derber, course director of Joint Command and General Staff Course, U.S. Army. "In addition to the instructor staff, we average about 50 students from 16 different countries."
"We are student focused," said Col. Ingemar Gustafsson, deputy commandant and chief of staff, Swedish army. "The culture at the college is a culture of small group ‘syndicate’ learning. Our philosophy is: read, think, write, discuss."
Pennsylvania National Guard has a long history of cooperative learning with the Baltic States, specifically its state partner, Lithuania. Since 1993, Pennsylvania has been partnered with Lithuania and has led numerous educational initiatives that have resulted in senior Lithuanian non-commissioned officers attending U.S. military institutions like the Army’s Senior Non-Commissioned Officer’s Academy. Additionally, Pennsylvania has hosted Lithuanian military representatives numerous times to participate in joint training in emergency management, civil response, and combat operations. Lithuania is scheduled place a general officer to serve as the next commandant of the Baltic Defense College at the conclusion of Kiili’s tour at the institute.
"The opportunity for a National Guard officer to attend this program at the Baltic Defense College would be an opportunity of a lifetime," said Hilty. "Their attendance not only fulfills a military education requirement as officers, but exposes them to peers from over 16 different European countries; all sharing diverse experiences that they’ll see no where else."
For next year’s class, two to three U.S. Solders, including a National Guardsmen, will be attending the 11-week course in Estonia.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s State Partnership Program go to: http://pa.ng.mil/JFHQ/Pages/InternationalAffairs.aspx. For more information on the Baltic Defense College, please go to: http://www.bdcol.ee