The 2009 Amsterdam Conference

Alexander Bon, President of ISMS 2008-2009
Netherlands Defence Academy 

The first conference of the ISMS, “Security in 2020 in a Multi-Polar World”, was held in Amsterdam on 25 and 26 November 2009 and attracted an audience of over 150 experts and speakers. The conference was opened by NLDA dean Professor Dr. Wouter van Rossum. 

Major General Patrick Cammaert (retd.), former MONUC commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo, explained the difficulties of multinational operations in Africa. 

ISMS President Alexander Bon spoke about the emerging Euro-Mediterranean society, which was followed by a lively discussion. 

The second day, Dr. Sebastiaan Reyn, head of ‘project reconnaissance’ (Project Verkenningen), a multi-ministerial endeavour to sketch the worldsituation in 2030 and to deduce what kind of military the Netherlands would have to build to face the challenges outlined in the document. Before Alexander Bon handed over the presidency to Professor Dr. Maja Kirilova-Eriksson, Vice-President of the Swedish Defence Academy, Professor Dr. Franz Kernic spoke about peacekeeping in a globalizing and multipolar world in sociological perspective.

The actual core of the conference was the meeting of the researchers in the working groups, whose chairmen had selected a number of stimulating papers to be presented. Next to the intellectual exchanges in the working groups, the conference was a moment to connect with other researchers and to discuss future research themes to be taken up by the ISMS.

WG1 War Studies

David Last’s War Studies group heard such papers as Piracy and the International Privatization of Security: A Security Governance Assessment by Dr. Christopher Spearin of the Canadian Forces College. Sjef Orbons (Netherlands Defence Academy) spoke about Nonlethality as a Military Option in the Afghanistan Security Context: Experiences and Prospect. Another country addressed was Iran. 

WG2 Military History

Military History (Chair: Dr. Eric A. Sibul, Baltic Defence College), enjoyed Prof. Dr. Wim Klinkert (NLDA/University of Amsterdam) on Fighting the next war: Early Dutch military reactions on World War I, 1918/1922. Dr. Sibul presented Military history in professional military education to prepare for a complex and dangerous world. Dr. Kjeld Hald Galster (Royal Danish Defence College) explained Power preservation.

WG3 Military Technology

The Military Technology Working Group (chair: Prof. Dr. Hannu Kari) listened to papers on sensors and Dr. L. Koene, A. Papy, (Netherlands Defence Academy/Royal Military Academy Belgium) presented their project on the Role of tissue simulants and their physical properties in the evaluation of non-lethal weapons vor. 

WG4 Leadersip, Command and Control and Basic Competence

Prof. Dr. Gerry Larsson, chair of the Leadership, Command and Control, and Basic Competence group, introduced new research on Leader development in natural context. Prof. Eyal Ben-Ari of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem spoke about Hybrid wars, complex environments and military leadership: Notes on current developments. Drs. L. G. Gulpers, Dr. R. J. M: Beeres, Dr. J. M. I. M. Achterbergh & Dr. D.J. Vriens (Radboud University of Nijmegen/Netherlands Defence Academy) presented their study into Moral responsible behaviour in the military organization: An argument for a study of the relation between moral decision making and infrastructural design.

WG5 Military Law and Ethics

Three Norwegians - LtCol. Dr. Nils Terje Lunde, Dr. Ingeborg Mongstad-Kvammen and Associate Prof. Sigrid Redse Johansen – are chairing the working group Law & Ethics, which heard results by Jouni Westling (NDU, Finland) on Transnational justice and punishing for past injustices as well as Prof. Dr. Desirèe Verweij (NLDA) on the theme Integrity and the risk of just another polished blazon. 

WG6 Security, Defence Policy and Strategy

In the Security, Defence Policy and Strategy group, led by Walter Feichtinger, discussion centered on China, development of intelligence services and the increasing importance of maritime forces and the alarming situation in the South African armed forces. Presenters were among others, Flemming Splidsboel Hansen, Capt. RNLN Sjoerd Both and Prof. Liselotte Odgaard from the Danish Defence College. 

WG7 Armed Forces and Society

René Moelker selected for the Working Group Armed Forces and Society papers by Dr. Theo Brinkel (NLDA) religion as a motivating factor in international security: Searching for indicators) and Dr. Łukasz Kamieński (University of Krakow), who explained the Perfect soldiers of the future: On chemical enhancement of the American military. 

WG8 Defence Management and Economics 

Defence Management and Economics (Dr. Robert Beeres, NLDA) dealt with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan and Canadian Reservists. Markus Gauster (IFK) presented on the underestimated relevance of economic impacts of crisis response operations. 

The Future

The ISMS needs to expand its working groups to serve the member organizations with fresh research, necessary to beter understand, plan and execute present and future operations of the smaller and medium sized nations. The annual conference and the work in the working groups will prove to be the leading instruments for that task.