NATO training chief heads for Africa

One of NATO’s top specialists in the use of information technology for training, Lieutenant General Karlheinz Viereck, who is responsible for Joint Force Training, is heading for Africa, signalling the Alliance’s interest in increasing collaboration in learning and training with African Union countries. Lt Gen Viereck will be a keynote speaker at eLearning Africa, the leading conference on ICT-enhanced education in Africa, which will take place in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania later this month.

NATO is the world’s biggest military alliance and its member states spend billions of dollars every year on training, as well as on research and development in the fields of information technology and education. Lt Gen Viereck, who was once nicknamed “the laptop general,” is perhaps the organisation’s leading strategic thinker about the use of new technology for learning and training. He is also a great admirer of Africa and a passionate believer in the benefit of closer relations between NATO and the African Union.

NATO is still “trying to find and define training policies for the future,” says Viereck. As an organisation, it has faced an unprecedented period of change, in which the nature of security itself has changed beyond recognition.

“When I started, everything was clearly defined by the Cold War. There are no longer two blocs, as in the Cold War… Now we face a totally different mix of threats. Some of them are hybrid threats. It is all much more demanding for training. There is a demand now for a different kind of training.”

Viereck is convinced that cooperation and partnership will be essential elements in any effective training strategy in the future. He is responsible for joint training initiatives with the African Union and is keen to develop the “closest possible alignment” for education, training and exercising.

“Whatever we tackle now, we try to have the African Union in the boat too,” he says. NATO has set partnership in training at the heart of its new strategic concept and is keen to offer its partners the benefit of involvement in a genuine two-way collaboration.

“We have to provide more possibilities to our partners. We need a common ground for training with the UN and the AU… We must support and assist our partners and possibly enable them to contribute to NATO training.”

New technology brings with it the possibility of significantly increasing cooperation in security-related training and Viereck is convinced that “it gives us an opportunity to do things differently.”

A radical thinker, this German general, who describes himself as “passionately for Africa” will be speaking at both the opening plenary session of eLA and in a special session on “Improving Cooperation in Crisis Response Operations.”


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