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The Europeanization of Military Training and Education

Final Report Summary - EUROMITE (The Europeanization of Military Training and Education)



In the aftermath of the Cold War, European militaries have drastically transformed national systems of officer education. Several have consolidated their military education institutions, which had once enjoyed considerable autonomy, into a new arrangement of National Defence Universities with civilian academic accreditation. At the same time, European militaries are under considerable pressure – within the context of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and the European Security Strategy (ESS)– to maximize interoperability, to improve military capacity and to meet the challenges of the new security environment. One of their main means to do so was through the development of a new model of military education- the National Defence University concept. The Marie Curie 'Europeanization of Military Training and Education' post-doctoral project was the first effort to explore these developments as well as its societal, political and security implications.

Three case studies were (Finland, the United Kingdom and Romania). Each has followed a comparable path of reform while representing a useful European cross-section among variables of geo-strategic position, political profile within the EU, military power projection and historical experience. This selection increases the possibility of making generalisable claims for the derivation, nature, significance and implications of a process of Europeanization and civilianization of military education. The research combined a series of interviews conducted over phone and on- site visits to each one of the NDUs with thematic analysis of a wide collection of primary sources as well as historical study of the evolution of the post- Cold War European military education. These were both done with Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software, mainly NVivo10.

Based on the research objectives outlined above, the project identified a number of key research questions:

1. How and why was the National Defence University (NDU) concept developed?
2. How the NDUs were established and what were are their characteristics?
3. What are the possible implications of the establishment of these National Defence Universities on the armed forces themselves and civil- military relations?
4. What scope is there for further inter-institutional cooperation and is there any rationale for the creation of a European Defence University?

All of the objectives were met under the study. In essence the study showed:

Firstly, the National Defence University concept developed as a result of the evolution of the CSDP. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty of European Union called for a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). However, it failed to provide any actual mechanisms for its development and execution. Only by the late 1990's did such a policy begin to be realized. At that time also increasing coordination among European militaries has materialized through integration of the military colleges' curricula. In an EU context, the European Security and Defence College was established in 2005 so as to develop a shared security culture amongst a variety of professionals – including military officers – at a European level. However distinctions in national cultures, institutional ethos and tasks priorities remain. As a result different countries will progress at different pace toward a common curriculum.

Secondly, with regard to the establishment of the NDUs, the study demonstrates that they were not founded as a top-down Europeanization through the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Each one of them resulted from a national decision to move the military education system from a teaching-oriented military colleges (with exclusive military faculty and curriculum) to a research oriented Defence University (with inclusive military- civilian faculty and academic accredited curriculum). However, the findings of the case studies (the National Defence Universities/ Academies of UK, Finland and Romania) indicates a bottom-up Europeanization through the construction of an epistemic community networking the national NDUs. That Community also gradually constructed a different type of European Officership which centered on the CSDP's civilianized concept of 'crisis management'.

Third, with regard to the implications of the new military education model, the study found that in contrast to the common criticism of the minor influence that the CSDP had on national policies it did have influence indirectly at least on the education and training of Europe's future generals. The knowledge and skill-sets required were gradually included within the continent's leading military colleges, scenarios of CSDP operations were rehearsed in war-games and the EU's Security and Defence policies were studied. The study demonstrated that the moving from military colleges directed at teaching to Defence University directed at research corresponds and facilitated the evolution of the CSDP. The NDUs' curriculums diverted from the traditional focus of military colleges on war-fighting into a core of crisis management and reconstruction operations with attention to tactical level of war operations. While the resulting skill sets and knowledge base are relevant for the employment and further revision of the CSDP, it suggests that in total the younger generations of European officers are lacking deep knowledge of mid- to higher end of the spectrum of operations.

Fourthly, the current limited efforts by the EU in supranational level education on CSDP may be beneficial but come short of producing fully Europeanized Defence professionals. The study concluded that while the NDUs provide the right organizational settings for training and educating professionals to work in CSDP context they can provide only European oriented national professionals. Only European Defence University held and run by the EU can truly prepare a European Defence professionals corps. It will also provide the EU for the first time with independent research, teaching, simulation, advising and policy developing capacities. Therefore the EDU can become the cornerstone of the research, education and policy development of a truly 'common' European Security and Defence policy.