European Union External Action

How does the ESDC contribute to Defence Diplomacy?

17/10/2017 - 16:49
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This was the question that the Head of the ESDC, Mr. Dirk Dubois, had to answer during the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum Heads of Defence Universities, Colleges and Institutes Meeting (HDUCIM) that took place in Manila, the Philippines from 17 to 21 September 2017. 27 delegations participated in this event, including all ten ASEAN members, but also various other regional players, such as the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Russia, the US and the EU.

A first session of briefings tried to identify the main security concerns of the region, which include issues such as climate change, cyber security and terrorism. However, all participants agreed that the major concern for now is the tension on the Korean Peninsula. Of course, not everyone agreed on who was to blame. While some participants blamed each other for having caused the tension, many pleaded for a peaceful resolution.

Defence Diplomacy, or the peaceful use of military capabilities to further foreign policy objectives, is one of the ways of promoting a peaceful solution. All participants agreed that the use of military education and research was an excellent example of a confidence building measure.

The ESDC of course is not a military but a civilian-military training provider and, as such, was the odd one out during this meeting. Nevertheless, the network contributes to Defence Diplomacy both inside and outside the EU. Inside the EU, the ESDC runs the European initiative for the exchange of officers, and has in its portfolio several courses of interest to the military such as the armaments courses that it runs in cooperation with Austria and the EDA; it also supports research through its newly established doctoral school network. The ESDC supports the objectives set out in the EU global strategy by training with partners outside of the EU, a point of particular interest for the ASEAN countries. The preferred solution is to do this through regional security organisations such as ASEAN.

The exchange of information between the training actors was very fruitful and the ESDC's participation in this event for the first time was highly appreciated by the other participants. It allowed the ESDC to explain what it is and what it does, but also to put the EU’s role as a global security provider in the spotlight in a region that is of huge economic interest to the Union.