Conference sneak preview

NATO training chief at eLearning Africa

Lieutenant General Karlheinz Viereck

Lieutenant General Karlheinz Viereck, who is responsible for Joint Force Training at NATO, will be a keynote speaker at eLA 2011. 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 NATO’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.

By Dr Harold Elletson

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 “being 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” on Thursday, May 26th, 2011, 11:30 – 13:00.

This session, which will be hosted by the New Security Foundation, will take place on Thursday May 26th at 11:00 a.m. and provide an opportunity for conference participants to discuss how cooperation can be enhanced and training for security, defence and emergency services improved.

Other speakers at this session will include Dauda Duncan of the Centre for Geodesy and Geophysics in Nigeria, who will speak about a new initiative to share seismic data; Shariq Khoja of the Aga Khan University in Pakistan, who will discuss the use of eLearning in training to deal with floods and landslides; Peter Kalanzi of Helsinki College in Finland who will talk about ‘eEducation’ and ‘eTeacher training’ in hostile environments; and Kolade Kamilu Bolarinwa of the University of Agriculture Abeokuta in Nigeria, who will speak about eLearning in the conflict zone of Taraba in Nigeria.

For more information about the session, please contact the New Security Foundation at


A full length interview with Lt Gen Viereck will appear in the May edition of the online magazine New Security Learning.

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