01. July 2024

Students of the Master`s Program “Strategy and International Security” visit NATO Headquarters and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Brussels MSIS-students visit NATO Headquarters and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Brussels

From June 27 to 28, 2024, students from the Master’s Program “Strategy and International Security” (MSIS) embarked on an insightful field trip to Brussels, visiting the Brussels office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and NATO Headquarters. The field trip was organized by Dr. Cedric Bierganns, KAS Bonn, Philipp van Helden, Research Fellow at the Henry-Kissinger-Chair for Security and Strategic Studies and Ambassador (ret.) Dirk Brengelmann, Fellow at CASSIS. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty, the students engaged in discussions with high-ranking officials from EU, NATO, and other renowned think tanks about current challenges and the future of transatlantic and European Security.

MSIS students on a field trip to NATO Headquarters in June 2024.
MSIS students on a field trip to NATO Headquarters in June 2024. © CASSIS
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Thursday, June 27

The trip started off with an early arrival in Brussels. The group was welcomed at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung office where Senior Policy Advisor Kai Gläsner provided an overview of KAS’s role and responsibilities as a well-connected and renowned political foundation. The students delved into discussions about the consequences of the recent European Parliament elections and the rise of right-wing parties across Europe, which prompted questions about the EU’s future strategic agenda. The debate included the political implications of Ursula von der Leyen’s possible second term as President of the European Commission and the appointment of the current Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as Josep Borrell’s most likely successor as the EU’s High Representative.

How does the EU formulate a coherent ”One-Voice-Strategy” in its approach to the current geopolitical challenges? How does it execute its own ”Zeitenwende” in defense policy? These questions were addressed by Charlotte Materne, Policy Officer for Security and Defense Policy at the European External Action Service (EEAS). The discussion continued with Dr. André Härtel, Head of the Brussels Office of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), who spoke about Ukraine’s potential EU membership and Germany’s military contributions to Ukraine’s defense against Russia. Oberst i.G. Jörg Schlickmann from the German Permanent Representation to the EU concluded the day by providing his expertise on Germany’s EU policies.


Friday, June 28

The following day, the students visited NATO Headquarters located in the northwest of the city. In the year of its 75th anniversary, NATO faces unprecedented challenges, as the war in Ukraine has fostered an unexpected sense of unity within the alliance which was unthinkable some five years ago. However, the prospect of a second term for of Donald Trump as U.S. President forces European members to reassess their reliance on American security guarantees. The upcoming NATO summit in Washington from Juyly 9 to 11 will address these questions: How can the ”European pillar” within NATO be reinforced? How can NATO maintain its conventional and nuclear deterrence?

High-ranking NATO officials, including Ambassador Boris Ruge, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, and Lorenz Meyer-Minnemann, First Deputy Director of the NATO Private Office, engaged with the students on these critical issues. Subsequently, the discussion shifted to NATO’s approach to Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (EDTs). How does NATO keep up with the risks and opportunities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or autonomous systems? Philip Lockwood, Head of NATO’s Innovation Unit, shed light on NATO’s initiatives to provide long-term financing for the development of cutting-edge technologies. The trip ended with a conversation with Dr. Jan Grünhage of the German Permanent Delegation to NATO about Germany’s role and responsibilities within the Alliance and its contributions to collective security.

The Henry Kissinger Chair would like to thank the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for supporting and coordinating the trip, as well as all speakers and students for their active participation. The discussions provided invaluable insights into EU and NATO policy fields and enriched the students' academic education.

MSIS students engaging in a fruitful discussion.
MSIS students engaging in a fruitful discussion. © CASSIS
MSIS students visiting the Brussels office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
MSIS students visiting the Brussels office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. © CASSIS

Find out more about the Master's program "Strategy and International Security" here

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