Page 14 - Cormorant 2019
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Regional Security Exercise 1 – Berlin
 Wg Cdr Keith Slack
ACSC students and staff that visited Berlin during RSE 1 were exposed to a broad and varied series of briefings and visits. The tension that became
evident very early on, and which was repeatedly reinforced throughout the visit, was the combination of a fragmented domestic political
environment, a non-interventionist foreign policy which is partly a result of the German historical perspective, external demands to increase security and defence spending within NATO, and finally the unshackling potential for the European Union and greater integration as BREXIT approaches. German foreign policy is at a crossroads, with the EU, France, UK, US, Russia, and in some areas China, all providing competing threats and opportunities. Which way it decides to go, how and in what capacity was discussed and debated throughout the visit and provided the ACSC cohort with a fascinating national perspective.
The visit began with a trip to the Reichstag to
better understand the current seat of German political power. History is never far away however: the transition from Bonn to Berlin after the end of the Cold War was discussed; preserved graffiti by Soviet soldiers in 1945 was observed; and the black metal box, among the thousands of boxes for each democratically-elected German MP, provided a
dark and poignant reminder of Hitler’s Third Reich.
A visit to the German MOD to better understand strategy, policy, armament procurement and activity at the operational level provided a thorough and detailed understanding of German Defence activity, all supported by the German Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Joachim Rühle. Briefings at the UK Embassy and the German Council on Foreign Relations provided unique viewpoints from a national and think tank perspective on regional security and Germany’s role. Finally, visits to the Bundeswehr Joint Force Operational Headquarters and the Military Historical Research Institute on the fourth day of the visit further consolidated the operational level of understanding within the German Armed Forces. We also received an academic viewpoint from Dr Graf on the German public opinion of the military, Germany’s role in the world and international security.
Cultural visits to the Brandenburg Gate, a Stasi Prison, remnants of the Berlin Wall, and the four very different sectors of Berlin that were forged during the Cold War completed the visit, to better understand the clear and evident role that history continues to play in domestic politics and foreign policy. The value of RSE 1 visiting Berlin was evident to all, especially in the contemporary environment of BREXIT and
the future of the EU, German power in Europe, and transatlantic, Eurasian and trans-Asian relations. The future will undoubtedly be fascinating and turbulent; and members of the visit to Berlin now better understand how German foreign policy may develop in response.

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