CENTER FOR HEMISPHERIC DEFENSE STUDIES
INTER-AMERICAN DEFENSE COLLEGE
Security and Defense Education in the Americas
From September 12 - 14 2011, CHDS organized the conference Security and Defense Education in the Americas, co-sponsored with the Inter American Defense College, which was held in CHDS headquarters at the National Defense University.
The conference analyzed the major issues concerning security and defense education within the Hemisphere; it evaluated and compared the various national education systems, educational institutions, curricula, and teaching methodology, and the knowledge and skills that students develop. There were a series of presentations and discussions by leading experts in security and defense education, Ministry of Defense officials, and Directors from the hemisphere's leading educational institutions. The conference served as a platform to present the conclusions from a year-long study on the relevance of security and defense education for each nation within the hemisphere.
Conference was inaugurated by Ambassador Nancy McEldowney, Senior Vice President of National Defense University; and whit the master lecture "Education as an Essential Component of Defense" by Dr. Frank Mora, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere.
There were 80 participants in attendance at the conference, and up to ten times this many following the proceedings online (via video streaming), from 25 different countries. Among them were directors of major educational institutions in the Hemisphere, as well as the analysts in charge of conducting the research project in each of the countries within the region.
The conference was the framework for presenting the results of the research project which, during the present year, has been developed for more than twenty researchers from all the countries of the hemisphere under the direction of Dr. Isidro Sepulveda.
The main conclusions of the conference, highlighted by the Director, Dr. Richard Downie, in the closing were:
1 - The diversity of national realities: As expected, we are faced with very complex and different defense, and defense education systems, yet.
2 - They present similar traits, similar problems, and common needs. Regardless of the size, the concerns are the same.
3 - The need to respond rising challenges in a world that is undergoing profound changes. The longstanding traditions of military schools, or university prestige, are not enough. Current challenges faced by the Armed Forces, some which involve situations that they were not prepared for, require immediate, effective and productive responses.
4 - The limitation of resources: although the needs are very different, all defense education systems need substantial enhancement of their financial, technical, and above all human resources.
5 - The need for specialization and professionalization: The specific country cases analyzed in some of the papers reveal how leadership and faculty rotation in military schools, and individual voluntarism in universities, have hindered the potential for development of defense education. It is necessary to encourage specialization and professionalization in defense education.
6 - Accreditation process: Most countries in the region have achieved, or are in the process of seeking accreditation for defense studies at the college level. This process is not free of conflict, and in many cases it supposes a significant transformation of traditional procedures.
7 - Weakness civilian training: All countries in the region have conveyed a number of doubts and uncertainty in terms of training civilians for defense. Paradoxically, the research reveals that countries that have a more formalized system for civilian training, also present some of the most serious problems in terms of professional incorporation.