WIESBADEN, Germany — The First Deputy Minister of Defense for Georgia spoke to U.S. Army Foreign Area Officers from around Europe for the second annual Foreign Area Officers Symposium, April 28 – 30.
The symposium serves as a significant professional development event for the career field, incorporating more than 50 U.S. Army foreign area officers in person and - due to COVID-19 mitigation measures - more than 150 additional attendees virtually.
The symposium provides participants the opportunity to re-focus on U.S. Army priorities and initiatives, both globally and specific to Europe. Attendees take away a better understanding of U.S. policy towards Europe, European perspectives on U.S. policy, and ways FAOs can better accomplish their missions.
First Deputy Minister Lela Chikovani, who routinely interacts with U.S. Army FAOs serving in the Office of Defense Cooperation and the Defense Attaché Office in Tbilisi, offered a unique and valuable perspective on the role of FAOs in partner nations.
“Over the past three past decades we have developed this deep and durable partnership. This important event provides an excellent venue to comprehensively discuss pressing issues of global and regional security,” said Chikovani. “The United States is our primary and enduring strategic partner, committed to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The symposium is hosted each year by the commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli. Cavoli, himself a former Foreign Area Officer, earned a Masters in Russian and East European Studies before serving as Director for Russia as part of the Joint Staff Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate and held fellowships at the National Defense University and George C. Marshall Center for European Studies in Germany.
“It’s been a pleasure to see Ms. Chikovani again and we are grateful to have her speak at our symposium.” said Cavoli. “Georgia is such a valued partner, and I look forward to our continued strong relationship as we work, train, and exercise together in the future.”
U.S. Army Europe and Africa supports the Georgian Defense Readiness Program-Training and the Georgian Deployment Program to the Resolute Support Mission and the role of FAOs in coordinating these missions is critical to their success.
“Such engagement further enhances and synchronizes our security cooperation while also developing future prospects for our partnership, ultimately contributing to a safer and more stable world,” said Chikovani.
In addition to Chikovani, speakers included State Secretary Benedikt Zimmer, German Federal Ministry of Defense; Lt. Gen. Hans-Werner Wiermann, Director General of the NATO International Military Staff.
Participants took part in a total of three panel discussions with senior leaders and subject matter experts to share ideas and strategy in the ever changing, complex security environment in Europe. Senior military leaders are able to share and discuss the challenges they face, U.S. policy in Europe, European perspectives and additional ways to better accomplish their mission.